WASHINGTON — The good news: Steven Stamkos is back. The bad news: Braydon Coburn left Friday’s game against the Capitals after the first period and Ondřej Palát got banged up.
That’s about how the injuries have gone for the Lightning recently. Nikita Kucherov got hurt, then Stamkos. Now he’s back in the lineup and someone else goes down.
Coburn banged knees with Radko Gudas in the first period. He was slow to get up, but skated off the ice on his own after an athletic trainer came out to check on him. Coach Jon Cooper didn’t have an update after the game.
Palát left the game temporarily in the first period. He came up limping after blocking a shot from John Carlson in the opening minutes of the game. The trainers attended to him on the bench and he briefly went back to the dressing room.
Once he returned, he took a high stick from Richard Panik, another former Lightning, but appeared to be fine. Then in the final minutes of the game, Palát got tripped up crashing the net and slid right into the goal post. He was a little slow to get up, but was back on the ice one shift later.
Stamkos had missed three games with a lower-body injury. The issue first cropped up against St. Louis on Nov. 19, then he tweaked it early two days later on against Chicago. He hasn’t played since.
The Lightning also sent Cory Conacher back to the AHL. The team likes carrying 22 players, even though right now that looks like 12 forwards and eight defensemen, to help maintain space against the salary cap. Now that everyone is healthy, they are back to that number.
Cooper complimented Conacher’s play while he was with the team the last week. But Conacher can be sent down without clearing waivers since he hadn’t been in the NHL for 30 days.