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There’s good news for Brayden Point’s return

Diana C. Nearhos’ takeaways: scary moment for Ryan McDonagh, the good news from Sunday and a tailgate tale.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) goes to the ice to attempt to block a shot by Carolina Hurricanes' Warren Foegele (13) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. [KARL B DEBLAKER  |  AP]
Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) goes to the ice to attempt to block a shot by Carolina Hurricanes' Warren Foegele (13) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. [KARL B DEBLAKER | AP]
Published Oct. 7, 2019
Updated Oct. 7, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. — There’s good news on Brayden Point watch 2.0, less so on the Cedric Paquette front.

Cooper estimates Point is ahead of the original late October timeline for his recovery from hip surgery. He might play on the upcoming road trip.

The Lightning hit up eastern Canada this week, starting with Toronto on Thursday and finishing in Boston a week later. Cooper didn’t have any specifics but said it’s possible Point plays.

Paquette, however, will not be playing on that trip. The center injured his arm during the Lightning’s final preseason game (a separate injury from the one that kept him out earlier in the preseason). Cooper said he’ll have a better idea on Paquette’s timeline in two weeks, when he should be skating again.

Read up on the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime loss to Carolina:

Shots proved hard to come by on Sunday, costing the Lightning. Steven Stamkos pointed to the same attitude that hurt them in the playoffs last year, expecting to win because of their skill. Read more.

Tyler Johnson has good luck against Carolina. He’s recorded more points against the Hurricanes than any other team in the league. Read more.

Lightning notes and thoughts:

· When will Curtis McElhinney play again? The problem with being a backup goaltender is your great performance is rewarded with a spot on the bench. The next obvious start for McElhinney is Oct. 30, the second half of a back-to-back at New Jersey. But the Lightning might try to get him another game in between.

· Ryan McDonagh had a scare on Sunday. He was tripped by Warren Foegele and went into the boards skates first, crunching his legs awkwardly. McDonagh was slow get up and skated to the bench with a grimace on his face, but he did return to the game.

· Stamkos moved back to center on Sunday. It’s unclear if that’s where he’ll play. There’s definitely logic to wanting him, Point and Nikita Kucherov on a line and thus Stamkos being the one who moves to wing. But before Point comes back, the Lightning is best with Stamkos at center.

· The Lightning’s depth has always been a strength. Cooper (like other coaches) doesn’t like labeling the lines one through four and stresses the importance of rolling all four. But when the going got tough on Sunday, he didn’t roll four. The fourth line (the team’s best through the first two games), only played about five minutes five-on-five. Luke Witkowski, Gemel Smith and Pat Maroon aren’t exactly a scoring line (though they did get the Lightning on the board Saturday), but they had been the team’s driving force. So why not play them?

· Technically, the Lightning extended their point streak against Carolina to seven games (4-0-3). BUT (yes, that needs the capitals), they were lucky to get a point in this one.

· There’s an interesting parallel here. Last year, the first back-to-back of the season pitted the backup goalie (Louis Domingue) against his former team (Arizona) and the team laid an egg in front of him. Sound familiar?

· There were some good things that happened early on Sunday. The Lightning scored three goals in a period. Stamkos made a beautiful play and a beautiful shot. Kevin Shattenkirk and Victor Hedman have three points in three games. Mikhail Sergachev has four. It’s interesting that the three leading scorers are defensemen, but it’s not that the forwards aren’t scoring as much as they’re sharing the wealth.

· When your NHL team plays on a college campus, you tailgate like it’s football. The Hurricanes play in PNC Arena at North Carolina State and fans park in the same lots they do for Wolfpack football games. Naturally, some tailgate the same way, too.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark on Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  3. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  5. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  8. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  9. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
    The Kings are the latest team to bring their annual trip to Tampa. The Capitals and Senators have also done so this year.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.
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