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Tampa Bay Lightning's Vrbata to get increased time

WASHINGTON — RW Radim Vrbata is going to get more power-play time in the short term, coach Barry Melrose said, and that will cut into the time for rookie C Steven Stamkos.

Melrose wants to play Stamkos more, and he put him on the first power-play unit to do it. But the team also wants to get Vrbata going or perhaps showcase him to a potential trade partner.

"So if Vrbata goes in, someone gets hurt and it's Steven right now," Melrose said.

Against the Capitals on Monday, Vrbata had 3:48 of power-play time, Stamkos 36 seconds.

Asked if the choice was frustrating, given Stamkos seems to thrive the more time he gets, Melrose said, "It is. We're having trouble scoring, and those two guys are guys we're counting on. Maybe get one of them going at a time and we'll go from there."

Vrbata has zero goals in eight games and zero in 30, including last season with the Coyotes.

MALONE HURT: LW Ryan Malone left the game in the first period because of what the team called a lower-body injury. Melrose called him "day to day." It is unclear if he will play Wednesday's game with the Panthers that ends the five-game road trip.

HEATING UP: W Gary Roberts, 42, got his first assist Saturday and his first two goals against the Capitals. "Any time you can help the team it is rewarding, and I still think I can do that," he said.

Melrose said Roberts should not be measured by points:

"Gary is a leader on and off the ice. For the young guys to see Gary training the way he does and being ready mentally and physically the way he does, that's what we expect of Gary."

Still going: The key to Mark Recchi's hot streak? The 40-year-old left wing, who has eight assists in seven games, credited a compressed schedule. "It's nice to get in a groove and play every other day," he said. "You sit four days between games, as much as we all like to practice, and practice is important, we love to play."

Odds and ends: Tampa Bay is 1-2-1 on the trip. … Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin's goal snapped a career-worst nine-game streak without one. … G Brent Johnson is 4-0-2 as a starter with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. … Lightning D Steve Eminger got a chance on the power-play point. … RW Evgeny Artyukhin (groin) missed his second straight game. … W Matt Pettinger was scratched. … Olaf Kolzig's 711 games for the Capitals are fourth most for a goalie with one team behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (978), Chicago's Tony Esposito (771) and Detroit's Terry Sawchuk (734).

Tampa Bay Lightning's Vrbata to get increased time 11/10/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:40pm]

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