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Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne sidelined by illness, stiff neck

ATLANTA — Lightning LW Simon Gagne, who has been sick for the past couple of days and is hampered by a stiff neck after a hard check into the boards Thursday against the Islanders, sat out against the Thrashers.

"He's been ill for three, four days. It wasn't bad, but he's just got no energy," coach Guy Boucher said Friday afternoon of the decision to give Gagne the game off.

"(Thursday), you could see, after 20 seconds he was dying out."

Gagne said his energy level was down a bit, which in Boucher's fast-paced scheme is problematic, but he wanted to "battle through it" against the Islanders. What was tougher for him to overcome was the stiffness in his neck stemming from a late-game play.

"I went almost head-first or neck-first into the board, and I got spasms right away into my neck," he said.

He returned for another shift and was set to get on the ice in the overtime, but the Islanders scored to end the game.

"I had to get some treatment right away after the game," Gagne said. "I had a massage guy working on it to make sure it's not too stiff (Friday), but it's really stiff right now. A little more treatment and having the day off (today), hopefully I should be good to go Sunday (against the Predators)."

LW Sean Bergenheim, who had a goal and nearly a second against his old club Thursday, filled Gagne's spot on the line with C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Teddy Purcell.

And in goal: After watching Thursday, Mike Smith started. He was 3-0-0 in his other starts this season, including in the Lightning's 5-3 season-opening win against the Thrashers.

Meanwhile, G Dan Ellis (1-2-0), whom Boucher said played a "good game" in the 3-2 OT loss to the Islanders, might start again against his old club, Nashville, at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Home again: D Pavel Kubina, who played last season for the Thrashers and had the chance to go against them in the season opener, played against them on his old home ice.

"There's a lot of new guys, but it's good to come back in here and play here again," he said.

Odds and ends: With three goals and an assist Friday, C Steven Stamkos has four multipoint games this season. He also has 12 goals in 14 career games against the Thrashers. … The Lightning extended its winning streak against its Southeast Division rivals to seven games. … Boucher opted to go with 12 forwards, adding C Mattias Ritola to the lineup for the second time. Ritola was claimed off waivers from Detroit on Oct. 5, and he made his Lightning debut in the 6-0 loss at Florida on Oct. 16. … D Mike Vernace was a healthy scratch.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne sidelined by illness, stiff neck 10/22/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 12:02am]
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