Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tyler Johnson's injury a mystery even to him

ANAHEIM, Calif — What caused Lightning C Tyler Johnson's undisclosed injury just 48 seconds into Friday's game against the Capitals remained a mystery Wednesday.

Even to Johnson.

"Just an unlucky, unfortunate thing," Johnson said. "It really wasn't anything. I've watched video 100 times, and I still don't quite know exactly what happened. … Just unfortunate for me it happened at a bad moment."

Johnson missed his second consecutive game Wednesday against the Ducks, but after skating with the team Tuesday for the first time since the injury, he hadn't ruled out a return by this weekend's back-to-back games, Saturday against the Sharks and Sunday against the Kings.

"That's definitely open," he said. "Hopefully I wake up (today) and feel great. Just one of those things I really don't know."

It has been a frustrating season for Johnson, who has four goals in 21 games after being an All-Star last year. He missed three games with an unrelated upper-body injury last month and had returned to score in a 2-1 shootout win against the Kings on Nov. 25 before getting hurt again Friday. From the looks of how Johnson was skating Tuesday, this injury appears to be lower body.

"It's definitely upsetting," Johnson said. "It's one of the hardest things for me … to sit there and watch, not be a part of the game."

MORE MEDICAL: LW Jonathan Drouin, who had missed six games with an undisclosed injury, returned to the lineup Wednesday. He played on a line with RW Nikita Kucherov and C Vladislav Namestnikov in Tuesday's practice.

C Cedric Paquette (upper body) skated again Wednesday morning but missed his seventh consecutive game. Paquette is feeling better but "not quite ready."

LW Ondrej Palat (left ankle), out since Nov. 7, felt good in his first full practice Tuesday and again Wednesday, though coach Jon Cooper said he'd be very surprised if Palat returned this weekend.

"I'm practice-ready," Palat said. "I just need a couple more practices with the team to get in tempo and be ready for a game."

STEPPING IN: D Nikita Nesterov was recalled from AHL Syracuse on Monday after spending the past month getting regular action with the Crunch and was in the Lightning lineup Wednesday. RW Joel Vermin was a healthy scratch as the Lightning went with seven defenseman and 11 forwards.

Cooper said he got good reports from how Nesterov played in 10 games with the Crunch (one goal, three assists) and hopes he can boost the team's offense and power play. "We know when he's rolling, it can be good for us," Cooper said.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former Lightning C Nate Thompson quipped that it was ironic that he made his season debut for the Ducks against Tampa Bay. Thompson has been sidelined since shoulder surgery in June. It was the first time he had surgery and missed the start of a season.

"The last couple days I haven't been able to stop smiling," Thompson said. "It's like Christmas morning."

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Ben Bishop started.

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