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Victor Hedman, Ryan Callahan join Lightning's growing injury list

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, right, finished Monday's game against the Islanders after taking a hit but missed Tuesday's game against the Rangers. {Associated Press}
Published Apr. 6, 2016

NEW YORK — The injury hits keep on coming for the already shorthanded Lightning.

Top D Victor Hedman (upper body) and alternate captain Ryan Callahan (lower body) missed Tuesday's game with the Rangers. The Lightning considers both players day to day, with coach Jon Cooper unsure if they'll return by the end of the regular season Saturday.

"They might be," Cooper said. "They might not be."

Hedman took an elbow to the head Monday from the Islanders' Thomas Hickey, who got a two-minute penalty for roughing. But Hedman finished the game, scoring a goal in 21 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time. Hedman, who has a concussion history, was out briefly in October after Stars captain Jamie Benn slammed his head into the glass.

Callahan also missed five games (March 19-28) with a lower-body injury.

Tampa Bay was already missing leading scorer Steven Stamkos (vascular surgery) and top-pair D Anton Stralman (fractured left leg) into the playoffs. With the injuries, Jason Garrison and Andrej Sustr became the top defensive pairing, with Sustr scoring his fourth goal of the season Tuesday. D Nikita Nesterov played with Matt Carle, and Braydon Coburn with rookie Slater Koekkoek.

Big hit: C Vladislav Namestnikov left Tuesday's game with four minutes left in the first — but returned to start the second — after getting blindsided on a mid-ice hit by LW Tanner Glass, who received a five-minute interference major and game misconduct.

No malice: C Brian Boyle said there was no malicious intent in his hit late in the third period on former Rangers teammate and friend D Dan Girardi. Boyle appeared to nudge Girardi from the side, and the Rangers defenseman awkwardly fell into the boards behind the net. Girardi was down on the ice for a little bit, but skated off to the room. Boyle was given a five-minute major for boarding. "I don't think it was a hit," Boyle said. "I disagree strongly."

Back in: With Callahan out, RW Jonathan Marchessault returned after being a healthy scratch for two games.

Cooper lamented a "troubling habit" with his team of passing up shots, and it was suggested the shoot-first Marchessault, who entered Tuesday with 76 shots in 43 games (1.7 per game), would be a boost.

"You're getting this all wrong," Cooper said. "Goal scoring is not our problem, it's been keeping them out."

The Lightning gave up five goals in Monday's loss to the Islanders but allowed three or fewer in the previous three and is fourth-lowest in the league in goals allowed per game (2.38).

Next up? RW Jonathan Drouin has nine goals in his past nine games at AHL Syracuse, raising questions of whether the Lightning would call up the No. 3 overall pick from 2013.

GM Steve Yzerman lauded Drouin for his work ethic, play and attitude since returning from suspension in early March. But there was no indication a callup is imminent. Drouin (lower body) missed Monday's game against Utica but Crunch coach Rob Zettler told BoltsProspects.com that Drouin is expected to play Friday.

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