Twenty-two Lightning players dressed for practice Monday afternoon at Amalie Arena. One-by-one they came out of the tunnel and skated onto the ice.
Yanni Gourde, Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, Nikita Kucherov and Adam Erne were among the first to join goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy and Louis Domingue out on the rink.
The rest of the team filed out within the next five minutes or so. But one of the Lightning players never made it out to practice – Brayden Point.
Point, who missed his first game in more two years Saturday against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury, is out day-to-day, first-year assistant coach Derek Lalonde said after Monday’s practice.
Just after Saturday’s game, Point was spotted walking around the locker room favoring his right leg and forcing a limp.
“That was news to us right before the game,” Lalonde said. “I think maybe a playoff game, a different situation, he probably would have been available to us on Saturday.”
Despite the hole in the lineup from Point’s absence, the Lightning ended up leaving Madison Square Garden with a 3-2 victory.
“We didn’t lose a whole lot, but with that being said we want our 21 back,” Lalonde said. “He’s a world-class player.”
Domingue to get more play time ahead
It’s not every day that you can have a player come off the bench and perform the way Louis Domingue did in Saturday’s game.
With the win, the 26-year-old goalie tied a franchise record of nine-consecutive starting wins with Vasilevskiy, who made franchise history in October 2017 with a ninth straight-win in a matchup against the Florida Panthers.
“I play on a great team,” Domingue said. “There is for sure games in there where I needed them, and there’s times where they needed me and that’s what a good team does, just finds ways to win and it’s been working for nine-straight games, I guess. But I don’t make much of it. It’s cool but there’s still a lot of work to be done for us.”
Domingue said with four back-to-back games this month — including back-to-back this Saturday and Sunday — he’s sure he’ll play in four games. And even though coaches don’t specify the games, it doesn’t change anything.
“You don’t prepare differently,” he said. “Every day’s the same business.”
With only two starts since just before Christmas, Domingue has certainly impressed his coaches.
“There’s some mental fortitude there,” Lalonde said. “He has an ability to close.”
Coming into a home game stretch strong
The Lightning had one goal entering its trip to Pittsburgh and New York – to win the road trip.
After dropping the Wednesday matchup against the Penguins, the Lightning won back-to-back contests in New York against the Islanders and Rangers, one in a shootout and the other with a 3-2 final score.
“It’s certainly positive,” Lalonde said.
The first-year assistant coach said Friday’s contest definitely felt like a playoff game. A full 65 minutes of play was under wraps before defensemen Victor Hedman put a puck in the back of the net.
“Good week, and good road trip,” he said, “definitely leaves a good taste in our mouth.”
Now the Lightning move on to a longer stint at home before hitting the road again.
In the next two weeks the team will only have to travel once in a short trip down south to Sunrise to play against the Florida Panthers.
While at home, Tampa Bay will play against the Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and finish off with the Montreal Canadiens.
Times Staff Writer Diana C. Nearhos contributed to this report. Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.