WASHINGTON — LW Ondej Palat was mad. Frustrated.
He couldn't believe it.
In his second game back with the Lightning after missing five weeks with a left ankle injury, Palat aggravated it Dec. 12 when Capitals RW T.J. Oshie fell on the leg. It was eerily similar to how Wild RW Nino Niederreiter landed on him Nov. 7 to cause the injury.
"Exactly same spot, same leg," Palat said. "So unlucky. I've never seen that happen in my three years (in the NHL). If it (happened on) some tweak into the boards, I'd say I wasn't 100 percent ready (to return). But if the (first injury) would have never happened, it still would have been injured."
Palat said this injury isn't as bad as the first. After tests in Tampa revealed no break, Palat rejoined the Lightning on its road trip Thursday and skated the past two days.
Coach Jon Cooper said Friday that Palat won't return until after the Christmas break, but it doesn't appear the wing will be sidelined as long as he was after the first injury.
Cooper indicated C Tyler Johnson, out since reaggravating his undisclosed injury Dec. 10, could return before Palat. Cooper said the Lightning should know more about the progress of C Cedric Paquette (upper body), who hasn't played since Nov. 14 and wasn't on the trip, when the team returns home.
CONDRA CLOSE: RW Erik Condra (lower body) continues to feel "better and better" but was scratched again Friday against the Capitals. Condra, who hasn't played since Dec. 5, likely will be in the lineup Sunday against the Senators, for whom he played his first five seasons before signing a three-year Lightning deal in July. Condra said he really wants to play against Ottawa, having missed the teams' first meeting Oct. 10. "We'll make sure I'm 100 percent for that one," Condra said, smiling.
ONE MORE TIME: C Mike Angelidis, called up Thursday for the third time this season, got in the lineup Friday as the Lightning went with 12 forwards. Angelidis, the captain for AHL Syracuse, acknowledged how much the number of forward callups by the Lightning has affected the Crunch. Asked who he has played on a line with in Syracuse, Angelidis quipped, "Who haven't I played with?" D Daniel Walcott has even played forward.
"It's been tough," Angelidis said. "We obviously don't have a lot of forwards down there, the bare minimum. … With lines together, you create chemistry. We've got to keep working at it."
LONG TIME COMING: RW Mike Blunden's goal Tuesday in Toronto was his first NHL tally since January 2012, and it was more gratifying because he is coming back from right ACL/MCL surgery last season. "It was a long road back, but definitely that was the highlight," Blunden said. "It's been a while."
NUTS AND BOLTS: D Matt Carle did not play Friday. Cooper said he has the flu. Carle played just 7:35 Tuesday. … LW Joel Vermin, out 6-8 weeks after Wednesday's hand surgery, was put on long-term injured reserve.