TAMPA — The Lightning defense has suffered another big blow as veteran Matt Carle will miss 6-8 weeks following abdomen surgery today in Philadelphia.
Carle, 30, who got hurt in Thursday's game, saw a specialist Monday, an exam that revealed torn adductor muscles in his lower abdomen. He's expected to return in early to mid March.
But with fellow defenseman Radko Gudas out for the regular season following knee surgery, young defensemen like Mark Barberio and rookie Nikita Nesterov, 21, must play more minutes. This also intensifies a potential push to acquire a defenseman before the March 2 trade deadline.
"We've lost two of our top six defense–men, it's tough to replace those guys," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We'll look at every situation to improve our team. Obviously with the injuries to those two guys, we'll pursue (trades) even more so. But I'm not going to go out and do anything out of desperation."
Saturday, Carle's streak of 347 regular-season games ended. He has four goals, 10 assists and is a plus-10 in 46 games this season, averaging 20:34 (third on the team) and killing penalties. Rookie Luke Witkowski, called up Saturday, could get an extended look, or another defenseman can get brought up from AHL Syracuse. Yzerman has been very impressed with Nesterov, so he'll play more.
"We've been able to survive to this point without (Gudas)," Yzerman said. "It's a bigger challenge losing Matty."