The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos left Thursday night’s 6-4 win in Columbus during the third period with an apparent injury and did not return.
Replays showed Tampa Bay’s captain hunched over in obvious discomfort and leaning against the boards for several seconds after a backhanded pass. He then skated off and into the tunnel.
Coach Jon Cooper did not have an update on Stamkos’ injury after the game.
“If there’s anything, we’ll fill you in tomorrow, but nothing right now,” Cooper said.
On Stamkos’ last play before leaving, he reached for the puck at the blue line and turned toward the boards, shielding the puck from Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand before backhanding it up the ice. There was no contact on the play.
Earlier in the game, Stamkos scored his team-high 17th goal, ending his seven-game goal drought. It also was his team-high 10th goal on the power play.
Stamkos, 31, has been one of the Lightning’s most durable players this season. He has played in 38 of the 40 regular-season games, missing two in mid-February while in COVID-19 protocol due to what was later determined to be a false-positive test. Coming off offseason core-muscle surgery, he entered Thursday averaging 18:26 of ice time, second most among Lightning forwards.
Stamkos has had two core-muscle surgeries since March 2020. A recurrence of the injury prevented him from initially participating in the Lightning’s postseason run last year. He returned for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Dallas, scoring a goal in 2:46 of ice time, but he reinjured himself on the play and did not play the rest of the series.
• • •
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.