Capitals right wing Dainius Zubrus said he knows Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore as a "good player" with whom he has had "some good battles."
That is why Zubrus said he hoped his hit from behind on Cullimore during Game 5 of last season's East quarterfinal was not considered dirty. In the game's final minute, Zubrus pushed Cullimore, who fell into the end boards at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Cullimore's lower face hit the top of the boards and opened a gash that needed 84 stitches. Cullimore did not miss a game.
"I remember he wore a mask afterwards, but I never went back and looked at it," Zubrus said Tuesday.
"Was it dirty? I hope it wasn't. I don't consider myself a dirty player."
Cullimore said the hit wasn't dirty but questioned if it was necessary late in a game. "I'm upset that when I look in the mirror I see a scar," he said. "Was it dirty? No. He didn't necessarily run me from behind. It was a push."
As for payback, Cullimore said, "You always look for a chance to get a good lick on a guy if it comes up. We want to win a game and that's the main thing. If things happen, they happen."
KHABIBULIN GAINS HONOR: Nikolai Khabibulin was the league's defensive player of the month for October. The Lightning goalie was 5-0-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
SVITOV SITS: Lightning coach John Tortorella said Alexander Svitov was scratched because "we thought our team played pretty well (Saturday) night, and we don't think there needs to be a change right now." Svitov, recalled Monday from AHL Hamilton, is expected to rotate in with center Martin Cibak, who beat Svitov in the preseason for the final roster spot.
"Who is going to win the job?" Cibak said. "I like that. It makes you play better."
"A push in the lineup is good," Tortorella said. "It's not just Marty that Alex could take the place of. There are a number of things you can do with him in the lineup."
ALEXEEV NEEDS SURGERY: Minor-leaguer Nikita Alexeev will need season-ending shoulder surgery, Lightning doctor Ira Guttentag said. The right wing for AHL Hershey sustained a total dislocation of his left shoulder during Sunday's game against Philadelphia. Guttentag said surgery will be done in seven to 10 days. He said Alexeev can work out in three months and skate with contact in four to six months.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning lost center Tim Taylor in the second period with a strained neck. He said he will practice today. The Capitals have a defenseman named John Gruden. Wing Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Darren Rumble were scratched.
_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO