PITTSBURGH — Lightning D Victor Hedman seemed to be walking perfectly fine. His voice had not gone up an octave.
In fact, Hedman on Sunday said he was "fine" after being speared Saturday in his groin area by Sabres RW Zack Kassian.
"It was obviously painful," Hedman said. "You just try to get up as soon as you can.
"It's one of those spots where it is sensitive."
The incident occurred with 7:55 left in the game after Kassian got tied up with Hedman and had his stick between Hedman's legs. After Kassian extricated the stick, he gave Hedman the jab and got two minutes for slashing.
"It's something you don't want to see happen on the ice," Hedman said. "I don't know if it was intentional or not. It was just one of those things."
One of those things that coach Guy Boucher said "you think you're dying, plain and simple."
Even so, Boucher didn't sound ready to condemn Kassian.
"There are a lot of lines players shouldn't cross, but here's what happens in a game," he said. "It can be so emotional that you don't even think. To tell players they should be able to control themselves, yes. But I've played and I've done all kinds of things, too, and after you do them you're just, 'Why did I do that?' "
Whatever Saturday's circumstances, Hedman before Sunday's game with the Penguins, seemed willing to move on.
"I feel fine," he said. "Nothing to worry about now; a new game, a new day."
BAD VIBE: With Matt Gilroy out with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday, and Marc-Andre Bergeron out with a back injury he aggravated Tuesday against the Kings, Tampa Bay was down to six healthy defensemen.
That was an omen for Boucher, who prefers dressing seven blueliners and worried about having enough fresh legs to cover Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.
Turns out he was right. Malkin, with a league-best 69 points, scored twice and took 13 shots, six on goal.
"He's a monster out there," Boucher said of the Russian who has 17 goals, 26 points in his past 17 games. "He can skate, sees everything, can put the puck inside your pants and out, and he can shoot. He has it all. You can't handle him one-on-one."
MALONE SITS: LW Ryan Malone missed his seventh game with an upper-body injury, though Boucher said he was available to play against his former team in his hometown. "He's begging to play," Boucher said. "We have to manage it for him. He's ready, but I'm tentative because we want to make sure he doesn't miss any more. We don't want to take a chance."
MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: Boucher gave no details about Gilroy's injury except it likely will not require an MRI exam. … Bergeron missed his third game after playing Tuesday, his first game after missing nine. "It won't go away," he said of his back injury. "It felt better for a while and then one game, the next day I was like, 'whoa.' "
ODDS AND ENDS: The Penguins have outshot the Lightning 119-61 in three games this season. … Pittsburgh has sold out 236 consecutive games.