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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steve Downie knows he is marked man with officials

RALEIGH, N.C. — Steve Downie got a reminder Friday that the referees are, as he said, "looking extra hard for me."

The Lightning right wing received a 10-minute misconduct in the third period against the Hurricanes for shooting a puck down the ice after a stoppage of play. That doesn't sound like much, but Downie apparently had been warned after doing it earlier in the game.

"It doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong," Downie said Saturday, "if I did something or didn't intentionally do it. It's hurting the team, and you can't have that."

What really bugged coach Guy Boucher is that he spoke to Downie before the game about putting himself in compromising situations.

Downie did just that in his last game, March 3 against the Bruins, skating almost the length of the ice to intervene and escalate a confrontation between teammate Pavel Kubina and Boston's Shawn Thornton.

Downie received a misconduct for that as well. He missed Tampa Bay's next nine games with ankle and knee injuries, returning Friday against Carolina.

"He looked quicker," Boucher said. "He worked hard. It's just he's hurting himself and hurting the team. We need him out there."

Downie, with a team-high 158 penalty minutes, needs to keep in mind he is marked to a certain degree by a past filled with suspensions and questionable hits.

"It's definitely taking a toll mentally," Downie said of the scrutiny. "But, I mean, it is what it is. I can't be doing stuff like that. I can sit here and say I had no intentions of (ticking) any refs off. It wasn't even on my mind to get a 10, and yet, there I am getting another one.

"I don't think it's going to change my competitiveness or will for the game. It's just I have to realize they're looking extra hard for me. I think (Friday) night they thought I was trying to do something to get them upset. But really I was just playing the game. They weren't even in my mind. But the bottom line is I'm hurting the team no matter if I'm right or wrong."

CONNOLLY HURT: Brett Connolly, drafted No. 6 overall in June, separated his shoulder Friday in the first period of a playoff game for Prince George of the junior Western league.

There was no word on the injury's severity. But Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said it is another red flag for a player with questions about his durability after he missed last season with hip injuries and has missed time this season with a knee injury.

"I'm concerned," Yzerman said. "He's got to be committed to getting physically stronger. He's a talented kid. He's got good size. He's got to add strength."

Connolly, 18, had 46 goals, 73 points and 26 penalty minutes in 59 games with Prince George.

ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay reached 40 wins and 90 points (actually 91) for the first time since 2006-07, the last time it reached the playoffs. … The Hurricanes on Saturday snapped the Lightning's five-game streak of scoring first. … Eric Staal's first-period power-play goal broke Tampa Bay's streak of 28 straight road penalty kills. … Forwards Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones and D Matt Smaby were scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steve Downie knows he is marked man with officials 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:21am]
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