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Ryan McDonagh leaves game against Buffalo with injury in first period

Defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh both left the game in the first period, but Girardi returned a few minutes later.
The sticks come up as a scuffle breaks out behind the Lightning net after a hit on defenseman Ryan McDonagh in a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/29/18). [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Nov. 30, 2018
Updated Nov. 30, 2018

Lightning defensemen experienced quite a first period against the Buffalo Sabres.

First, Dan Girardi scored the first goal of the game. Then minutes later, he had to be helped off the ice after colliding with Tage Thompson along the boards. Girardi struggled to put weight on his right leg. He put his arms around two Lightning staff members who helped him to the locker room.

Girardi soon returned to the game, though. About the same time Girardi returned, Jack Eichel boarded defenseman Ryan McDonagh who left the ice under his own power.

Eichel hit him at an awkward angle because McDonagh was already leaning forward. He went head first into the boards and was slow to get up while a scrum erupted around him.

McDonagh did not return for the rest of the game. Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not have an update on McDonagh after the game.

Girardi said he felt lucky, considering how much his knee hurt in the moment.

"But it was just a little bump and the pain went away," he said.

The McDonagh injury forced the Lightning to play with five defensemen for the rest of the game. That group consisted of Victor Hedman, Girardi, Erik Cernak, Braydon Coburn and Mikhail Sergachev. The Lightning is already without another veteran defenseman in Anton Stralman. Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch.

Here's the ice time for the Lightning defensemen against Buffalo:

Girardi: 20:07

Coburn: 23:10

Hedman: 26:55

Cernak: 16:59

Sergachev: 21:36