NEWARK, N.J. — Back in the lineup Thursday after missing 18 games because of a fractured right hand, Lightning C Vinny Lecavalier said losing significant time to injury for a second straight season is "frustrating, for sure."
But it is even more so this season because his surgically repaired right shoulder finally is healthy. Lecavalier for the first time admitted what long was suspected: He had lingering effects from the April 2008 surgery to repair his severely dislocated shoulder and torn labrum.
"Oh, my God, they put it in there really tight," Lecavalier said of the shoulder being held in place by nine brackets. "They wanted to make sure it didn't come out again."
"For two years it felt like it was coming forward," he said, rolling the shoulder to demonstrate. "Even during the night I could feel it pushing forward. Not that it was hurting, but you lose flexibility in it. This is the first year it feels pretty good."
Lecavalier, 31, doesn't expect complications from the hand, broken by a shot Feb. 18 against the Capitals. And he said "it felt decent" after playing 17:38 against the Devils with one shot on goal and going 7-for-18 on faceoffs. "It will get stronger, but overall it felt pretty good," he said.
DEBUT: There was a weird scene with 5:23 left in the second period. It appeared G Dwayne Roloson, who had just let Marek Zidlicky's blue line shot elude him for a 4-3 New Jersey lead, was being pulled.
But as Roloson got to the bench and Sebastien Caron went in, coach Guy Boucher waved Roloson back into the game. The switch was a miscommunication, Boucher said; he was waving at RW Teddy Purcell to get on the ice. Caron believed the signal was for him.
Caron, signed March 19 out of Germany after Mathieu Garon's season-ending groin injury, finally made his debut 6:05 into the third, when Roloson really was pulled after allowing six goals on 34 shots.
"Really tight," Caron said of his first NHL game since April 2007 with the Ducks. "I started to figure out the pace a little; not a great situation."
"I think it went okay," he added after stopping four shots. "Guys are bigger. Everything is quicker. I tried to adjust to that."
ON THE WAY: The agent for newly signed F J.T. Brown said his client got a passport and flew to Tampa on Thursday, and GM Steve Yzerman said Brown will play Saturday against the Jets. Brown, 21, out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, needs the passport to play next week in Canada. Had it not been immediately obtained from a passport office in Chicago, Brown would have remained there until the process was completed.
ODDS AND ENDS: C Nate Thompson (upper body) seemed confident of playing Saturday. … The Lighting lost 39 of 57 faceoffs. … The last time the Devils scored four in a period was Jan. 9 against Tampa Bay, when they got five. … Tampa Bay has allowed six or more goals nine times. … The Lightning was without a road power-play goal for the first time in eight games. ... D Mike Commodore was the healthy scratch.