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Lightning lose Ryan McDonagh against Ottawa Senators

Also, an Ottawa goal was waived off due to head-butting. And little things count in the AHL.
 
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) jumps clear of the puck beside Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (74) and goaltender Craig Anderson (41) during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) jumps clear of the puck beside Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (74) and goaltender Craig Anderson (41) during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP) [ JUSTIN TANG | AP ]
Published Jan. 5, 2020|Updated Jan. 5, 2020

OTTAWA — There was good news, neutral news and bad news for the Lightning on Saturday.

From negative to positive:

• Defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the 5-3 win against the Senators and didn’t return after taking a one-second shift with 24 seconds left in the first period. McDonagh has been one of the Lightning’s biggest impact players on defense the past two seasons. There was no update on him after the game. Coach Jon Cooper said McDonagh was doubtful for Sunday’s game at the Hurricanes.

Related: Tyler Johnson's late goal gives the Lightning a win over Ottawa

• There was uncertainty if forward Pat Maroon would play between warmups and puck drop, but he was in the lineup. Maroon took the ice for warmups but quickly headed back to the dressing room and did not take line rushes. He came back out for the game to start, however.

• To end on a good note: Defenseman Jan Rutta returned to the lineup. He had missed three games with a lower-body injury. It had looked like he was going to be in Thursday’s lineup against the Canadiens when he took line rushes during the morning skate. But Rutta was not in the lineup at game time.

No head-butt goals allowed

Did you know a goal cannot be scored by head-butt? Most in the press box at Canadian Tire Centre did not. Nor did most of the players on the ice when Ottawa’s Colin White appeared to have scored on a header that would have tied the score at 4 inside the final minute of the game.

The goal horn sounded when the puck went in the net, and the Senators celebrated. An on-ice official, however, waved no goal. He stepped up and announced that a goal cannot be scored by head-butt.

The Lightning’s Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point knew it wasn’t a goal. They remembered then-Blackhawk Andrew Shaw having a similar goal waived off in the 2015 playoffs.

Kevin Shattenkirk was less sure as it happened Saturday.

“On the bench, we were wondering,” he said. “I was kicking through all the rules — high-sticking, no; can’t punch it in with your hand, no. In my mind … well, I’ll take the call.”

Cooper saw the puck the whole way through the play, as it deflected off the crossbar straight up into the air, and thought it was going to land in the crease. He suggested that encouraging players to direct their heads at the puck is a bad idea.

Related: How Mikhail Sergachev became the Lightning's most improved player

“It’s an instinctive move, a pretty cool play the kid made,” Cooper said. “I’d still say it’s not something you want, guys charging with their heads.”

Only in soccer.

Minor leagues aren’t forgotten

The AHL is often a spot where costs are cut and savings are a priority. The Lightning have been known for their focus on development. That tends to come with spending.

That’s not to say the organization is shelling out lavishly, but it made a move this weekend that demonstrates the small areas it spends more on.

AHL Syracuse recalled goaltender Zach Fucale from ECHL Orlando. Fucale just returned from a strong showing in the Spengler Cup, an annual international tournament in Switzerland, where he allowed one goal in three games for Canada as it won the championship. Crunch coach Benoit Groulx and general manager Stacy Roest decided to give him a look in the AHL, the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard reported.

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They decided to play Fucale, 24, against Laval on Saturday and flew him up to Quebec for the game a day early to rest the night before. The rest of the Crunch played in Syracuse on Friday night and then hopped on a bus for a 3½-hour ride to Laval, near Montreal.

It’s a little thing, but it’s an example of the organization’s commitment to development and its minor-league program.

The Crunch lost to Laval 3-2. Fucale made 12 saves as Syracuse outshot Laval 35-15.