TAMPA — Lightning forward Alex Barre-Boulet played in his first NHL game since March 9 on Thursday against the Panthers.
He was on the first line with center Brayden Point and wing Ondrej Palat, playing right wing instead of his usual center position, as Steven Stamkos missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury.
Barre-Boulet had 16:05 of ice time and was minus-1. He had no points but two good scoring chances against Florida’s Chris Driedger.
Early in the second period, Barre-Boulet missed a one-timer on a pass across the crease from Point, but then he helped recover the puck and took another shot, this time from the slot.
“He adds a little skill, and he can make some plays,” coach Jon Cooper said Thursday morning. “We want him competing out there.”
Barre-Boulet played two games with the Lightning, on Feb. 22 and March 9, then was reassigned to AHL Syracuse on March 11 for salary cap reasons, Cooper said.
In the February game against the Hurricanes, he skated on the third line with Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn. In March against the Red Wings, he was on the fourth line with Mathieu Joseph and Pat Maroon.
In Syracuse, Barre-Boulet played in seven games, scoring in each of his past five games and logging two assists.
The Lightning are likely to keep experimenting with line combinations as they deal with the absence of Stamkos, who was hurt against the Blue Jackets on April 8.
On Thursday morning, Cooper said Stamkos would not play Thursday or against the Panthers on Saturday. On Thursday night, Stamkos was added to the long-term injury list and is expected to miss at least the next seven games.
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