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Lightning's Kucherov, Palat expected out through weekend

Leading scorer Nikita Kucherov missed Friday’s game with a lower-body injury and also was expected to be out tonight.
Leading scorer Nikita Kucherov missed Friday’s game with a lower-body injury and also was expected to be out tonight.
Published Dec. 17, 2016

VANCOUVER — The news isn't getting better for the banged-up Lightning.

Wings Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat didn't play in Friday's game against the Canucks and were not expected to return for tonight's game in Edmonton, coach Jon Cooper said.

Both were considered day-to-day, GM Steve Yzerman said. Kucherov, the Lightning's leading scorer, has a lower-body injury that also kept him out of Wednesday's 6-3 win in Calgary. Palat has an undisclosed injury, suffered during the second period Wednesday; it appeared he was favoring his right side.

RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) participated in Friday's morning skate but was to miss his eighth straight game.

"It's been an unfortunate run of late with all the injuries," Cooper said. "If there's ever a time for guys to step up, it's right now."

With Palat out, RW Erik Condra was recalled from AHL Syracuse, and D Luke Witkowski was sent down. Condra had been traveling with the Lightning all week; he said he had cancelled his scheduled flight Thursday from Vancouver to Syracuse.

Wing Cory Conacher continues to get getting time on the power play, as does C Brian Boyle, who scored two goals Wednesday. But for a Lightning team already without Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), losing Palat, Kucherov and Callahan leaves a sizable void.

"Not only are these guys impact players on the ice, but impact guys in the (locker) room," Cooper said. "You're taking a lot of voices, a lot of leadership out of the room. It's different roles for players on the ice, but in the locker room, too."

NO. 500: D Victor Hedman said it was special to play in his 500th career game Wednesday. And it was one of his better ones, with three assists and five blocked shots in 28 minutes. "I want to be better. I have to be better," he said. "And I think (Wednesday) was a step in the right direction. I put a lot of pressure on myself to contribute and be a difference-maker."

OHLUND HONORED: The Canucks inducted D Mattias Ohlund into their Ring of Honor on Friday. Hedman said it was an honor to be present for the ceremony because Ohlund, a fellow Swede and former Lightning teammate, had a big impact on him his first two seasons in the league (2009-11). Those were the final two NHL seasons for Ohlund, who played 11 seasons in Vancouver before coming to the Lightning in 2009. A serious knee injury prevented him from playing the final five years of his deal with the Tampa Bay.

"He was so persistent in his game, battling through injuries, never complained," said Hedman, who participated in the ceremonial faceoff before the game. "He showed me how to be a professional and how to prepare for games and practices, and how to keep a high level throughout a whole season. He's meant a lot to me, not just on the ice but off the ice as well. How to prepare, how to be at your best every night."

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started against the Canucks, with Ben Bishop expected to start tonight. … D Nikita Nesterov scratched for a second straight game, with Slater Koekkoek in.