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Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier misses game with knuckle injury

TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he does not believe the injury to Vinny Lecavalier's right index-finger knuckle is serious.

"We don't think it's something that's going to be long term," he said. "If it was the playoffs, he'd probably be playing now."

But Lecavalier, hurt Saturday by a slap shot from Panthers D Bryan McCabe, sat out Monday's game with the Stars, and Boucher said he did not have a timetable for his return, calling the captain day to day.

He also said the swelling, while reduced, was "a little more than we thought." And he hedged when asked if the knuckle was more than bruised:

"It's somewhere in between."

Lecavalier, 30, skated for a few minutes by himself after the team's usual morning skate. While he can grip his stick, he said it was "a little weak." Stick vibration also causes pain.

He takes solace, though, that he can move his finger because his first thought was the knuckle was broken. "Definitely, movement is probably the most important thing, and then strength, seeing if I have the right strength to play."

Lecavalier said no new tests were done — he said Saturday's X-ray was negative — and spent Sunday icing the joint.

"The day after is probably the worst," he said.

Lineup: With Lecavalier out, Boucher went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

C Dominic Moore took Lecavalier's spot between Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone, and a rotation of players filled Moore's normal spot between Teddy Purcell and Sean Bergenheim.

Gagne took Lecavalier's rover position on the power play. Malone took Gagne's spot in front of the net.

Welcome back: Former Lightning Brad Richards played for the second time at the St. Pete Times Forum since his February 2008 trade to the Stars and said the building always will be special because of Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

"I've only won one Stanley Cup so far, and that's the place, so there will be a lot of special feelings all the time when you go in there," Richards said. "But as far as playing the team, it's not the same anymore. It's being in the town, seeing the building."

The Stars next play Thursday at Florida, so the team will be in town through Wednesday. Richards, who still has a Davis Islands home, is the tour guide for fishing and golf outings.

Tough time: Saturday's 6-0 loss to Florida was a poor one in which to make evaluations, so Boucher was careful discussing LW Mattias Ritola's first game.

"There's good moments and, obviously, moments he wasn't at the right places, which I was suspecting," Boucher said.

Ritola, claimed off waivers from Detroit, was one of five Lightning players at minus-3.

"It's your first game and you want to have a good game, but that's the way hockey is," he said. "Some night it's off. We have to get back up; the same for me. I have to get back up and have a good game."

Odds and ends: D Pavel Kubina's assist gave him 350 career points. … Ritola and D Mattias Ohlund (knee) also were scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier misses game with knuckle injury 10/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 1:24am]

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