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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]
Published Oct. 7
Updated Oct. 7

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.

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