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Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh will miss at least a couple of weeks

Tampa Bay is testing out defensive pairings in McDonagh and Jan Rutta’s absence.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) looks on before a face off against the Vegas Golden Knights during second period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) looks on before a face off against the Vegas Golden Knights during second period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Feb. 8, 2020
Updated Feb. 8, 2020

TAMPA — It’ll be at least a few weeks before the Lightning see Ryan McDonagh again. Coach Jon Cooper said the defenseman’s injury will not end his season, but they’ll have to circle back in a couple of weeks to see where he is.

It was the same assessment Cooper gave Jan Rutta, when he was hurt the game before. So the team will have to go with a different look at the blue line for a while.

Officially, both have lower-body injuries, but they were incurred differently. McDonagh blocked a shot with his right leg on Thursday. Rutta slid into the boards legs first on Tuesday.

Related: Mikhail Sergachev has earned a look on the top pairing

Mikhail Sergachev played with Victor Hedman in the top pair on Thursday, before McDonagh was hurt. It’s a good look with Sergachev playing a much-improved defensive game. On Saturday, Hedman is playing with Erik Cernak, as the team feels its new pairs out.

On Friday, Tampa Bay recalled Cameron Gaunce from the AHL, while Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn returned to the lineup. Gaunce’s recall came as a precaution, in case someone else got sick before Saturday’s game, before the Lightning knew the extent of McDonagh’s injury.

Now that it’s been established both players are out for at least a couple of weeks, the Lightning could re-evaluate. It’s possible they bring up someone like Cal Foote, who has been leading AHL Syracuse’s defenseman, for his first NHL debut.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.