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Lightning’s Ondrej Palat to be out six to eight weeks

Palat, a glue player on first-place team, will be out 6-8 weeks.
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) dos down hard while going to the net against Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner (22) and Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during first period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (12/28/17).
Published Jan. 22, 2018
Updated Jan. 22, 2018

The Lightning will be without Ondrej Palat six to eight weeks. And  Tampa Bay is still ticked by how Palat got hurt.

The Wild's Jared Spurgeon slashed/speared the back of the Lightning wing's right ankle on a power play Saturday.

"It's a huge loss for us on a complete non-hockey play that didn't have to take place," coach Jon Cooper said. "It's tough to swallow, I'll tell you that."

The NHL Department of Player Safety reviewed the play but determined the slash wasn't very forceful. Either way, that means the Lightning will be without a glue guy in Palat, who plays in all situations and was an engine on the team's shutdown line with Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson.

"Of all the success we've had in the last few years, he's a big part of it," Cooper said. "It's unfortunate, because he's a guy that  plays the game the right way. He goes to all those dirty areas, he's been part of a pretty productive line for us.

"Guys get hurt in this game, I just didn't like the way he got hurt."

How will the Lightning replace Palat? Well Nikita Kucherov took Palat's spot on the line with Point and Johnson for today's skate in Chicago. There was plenty of line shuffling, with Steven Stamkos centering Vladislav Namestnikov and Chris Kunitz. Matt Peca, called up Sunday, centered a third line with Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde. The other callup, Michael Bournival, was on the fourth line with Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette. Both Peca and Bournival will play tonight.

Callahan took Palat's place on the second power play unit, which should provide a spark to the veteran who has just one goal in 36 games this season.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will be in net.