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Lightning get Ryan McDonagh back, but lose Victor Hedman

One defenseman up, one down as Tampa Bay takes on Detroit on Sunday
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) on the ice against the San Jose Sharks during second period action at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) on the ice against the San Jose Sharks during second period action at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Mar. 8, 2020
Updated Mar. 9, 2020

DETROIT — The Lightning had good news and bad news on Sunday. Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup as Tampa Bay lost to Detroit on Sunday, but Victor Hedman sat out with a lower-body injury.

McDonagh had missed 14 games since blocking Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin’s shot on Feb. 6. He has been skating for a couple of weeks but only has one full team practice and a few morning skates under his belt.

“My legs felt good,” said McDonagh, who played second most for the Lightning at 23:42. “Maybe a little sloppy with the puck, but all in all I am happy with how I felt injury-wise.”

Related: Lightning fall to Detroit in a shootout

He said it’s a matter of knowing his body to gauge where he was in terms of a return without much practice time. You can never fully emulate a game in practice anyways.

Coach Jon Cooper said Hedman might be available for Tuesday’s game in Toronto, but labeled him as questionable.

Hedman never left Saturday’s win over the Bruins, but played less than five minutes in the game. He didn’t play the latter half of the first period, tried to return in the second but couldn’t.

Even as his team played down to five defensemen, and then to four when Erik Cernak served a misconduct, Cooper liked what he saw from his defenseman on Saturday.

“Boston’s an exceptional team so it’s hard to contain those guys,” he said. “As a whole, especially in the second and third period, we defended hard, we were gapped, we didn’t give them a ton of space.”

Outside of a breakdown that turned into a breakaway for Bruins sharpshooter David Pastrnak, the coach called the game a “solid effort from an under-manned D-corps.”

For now, without Hedman, McDonagh and Erik Cernak were reunited and bumped up to the first pair. Mikhail Sergachev and Kevin Shattenkirk remain together. Luke Schenn is back in the lineup, playing with Zach Bogosian in place of Braydon Coburn.

Jan Rutta is traveling with the team this week, but will not play on this trip. It’s possible he could return for the Western Canada swing that starts in Vancouver on March 18. Rutta missed his 16th game on Sunday, since sliding into the boards awkwardly, legs first on Feb. 4.

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