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Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh nearing return

Journal: Plus the perfect kill ended, celebrating Gasparilla early, a four-on-four overtime.

TAMPA — Ryan McDonagh is nearing a return. The defenseman skated with the team for the first time since being injured Jan. 4 in Ottawa.

McDonagh had skated alone while the team was on the road over the weekend, but he joined them for morning skate on Tuesday. He did not, however, play against the Kings that night.

Jon Cooper said he hopes McDonagh, who was hit with an inadvertent elbow to the head against Ottawa, will be able to play before the bye week. The Lightning play a back-to-back against Minnesota and Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.

Related: Lightning beat the Kings in a rare shootout ... only their second of the season

There was no update on Pat Maroon, who also missed the game. Maroon took an inadvertent elbow to the head on Thursday, but he returned to the lineup Saturday. He then slid into the boards hard, shoulder first against the Flyers, and skated off holding his right shoulder.

Loose pucks

  • The perfect kill has ended. The Lightning killed 20 straight power plays, but finally gave up a goal on the advantage Tuesday. They went five complete games without giving up a power-play goal and totaled 376:20 between goals allowed, before Dustin Brown scored in the third period.
  • The Lightning are celebrating Gasparilla early, since they won’t be back at Amalie Arena before the party takes place. They sprinkled the game with a pirate theme, including fan games and graphics (my favorite being Lightning and Kings pirate ships battling).
  • The NHL plays three-on-three overtime, but the Lightning and Kings ended up playing four-on-four. The overtime started with 1:02 left on a Lightning power play, so at four-on-three. There was not a single whistle in the five-minute period, so they continued at four-on-four.
  • Hate watching games alone? Me too. The Lightning are hosting a watch party for Thursday’s game against the Wild. The event will be at World of Beer in Tampa. The party starts at 7 p.m. with an 8 p.m. puck drop.

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