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Steven Stamkos confirms he will play for Canada at Worlds

Steven Stamkos did not play in last year's world championship because of a left shoulder issue he wanted to heal.

The Lightning center's left shoulder is sore again, but an MRI exam in the past few weeks showed nothing serious, Stamkos said, and he will play for Canada at next month's world championship in Sweden and Finland.

"I'm excited," Stamkos said. "You don't want to be in this tournament ever, but when you're not in the playoffs it's a little bit of a consolation."

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As for his shoulder, which has been bothering him, particularly, since he slammed into the end boards March 23 at Ottawa while checking defenseman Marc Methot, Stamkos said the soreness is from "wear and tear."

Stamkos has an interesting night in front of him as the Lightning wraps up its season against the Panthers. Just two points behind teammate Marty St. Louis in the league points race and three goals behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, the emphasis has turned in a sense to individual achievement.

That goes away when he puts on a Canada sweater.

"It's going to be fun," Stamkos said. "I'm excited for the chance to put on the Canada sweater. I feel that I'm healthy enough and I'm excited to go over there and represent Canada."

In other world championship news, defenseman Victor Hedman said he will not be playing for co-host Sweden, a decision he said was "very difficult." But Hedman said he needs time for some bumps and bruises to heal. He missed four games this month with a lower-body injury.

"I want to make sure I'm healthy now, and then in the beginning of May I will start working hard for next year," Hedman said. "Missing (the playoffs) the last two years in a row, I want to make sure I'm 110 percent healthy this summer so I can work hard and get back in shape and be really at it for next year."

Forward Nate Thompson, defenseman Matt Carle and goaltender Ben Bishop already are confirmed playing for the United States.

"For these guys to get involved and keep their competitive nature up and represent their country, I think it's great," coach Jon Cooper said. "I wish we had more guys going."

Other stuff from the morning skate: Anders Lindback gets the start in net. Two reasons, Cooper said. Lindback played well in Thursday's 2-0 loss to the Bruins, and because of Lindback's high ankle sprain, Cooper hasn't had as many opportunities to see him play. "I think it's only fair to Lindy, myself, the organization that he gets the chance to play one more." ... Left wing Ryan Malone is back in the lineup after two games as a scratch. ... Defenseman Mathieu Roy is in the lineup. Interesting story in that Roy was back home in St. Georges, Quebec, after playing in Hamburg, Germany, when he got the call from the Lightning, which wanted to send Radko Gudas to AHL Syracuse for the playoffs. Roy, who played four games for Tampa Bay in 2010-11 and played under Cooper at AHL Norfolk, jumped at the chance. First, though, he had to get permission from his team in Germa ny to which he is under contract fpr two more years. "I come here toplay and we see what happens," Roy said. "It's just another chance to play in the NHL. I wouldn't pass that up." ... Interesting take from Cooper on Syracuse forward J.T. Brown who might have started the season with Tampa Bay if not for a collarbone break. Cooper put Brown in the same category as Brett Connolly. "They had to be de-programmed and reprogrammed on how to play," Cooper said. "What's going to make them both excel at this level is they were really willing to learn. I know we would have seen him here had he not had those injuries. I'm looking forward to seeing him take a major part of going for a championship in Syracuse. ... In the Stamkos-St. Louis points race, the forgotten man is Teddy Purcell, who is the other wing on that line. "I have to bring something to the table, maybe the ugly smile," Purcell said, laughing. "I'm good for something." More to the point, Purcell said, "It's just an honor to play with those guys night in and night out. Sometimes you almost do too much to give them the puck. You want to go out and make an extra effort to get it to them and look for those guys as much as you can. But at the same time you just have to play the game and not force things." Cooper said he believes Purcell has some chemistry with Stamkos and St. Louis. "Teddy is the kind of guy who can put people in position to score," Cooper said. "It's going to give us a better chance to win and give those guys a chance to get on the score sheet."