TAMPA — The Lightning placed Steven Stamkos on long-term injured reserve with a lower-body injury Thursday night, meaning they will be without one of their top scorers for at least most of the regular season’s stretch run.
Stamkos was retroactively placed on the list to April 9, meaning he will miss at least 10 games/24 days before he is eligible to return. He already has missed three games after being injured in the third period of the Lightning’s 6-4 win in Columbus on April 8. He hunched over after he spun around to pass the puck up the ice, slowly skated off and went into the trainer’s room.
Stamkos is eligible to be activated for the Lightning’s final four regular-season games, starting May 5 against the Stars. It was unclear Thursday whether the Lightning believed he would be able to return when he’s eligible.
Stamkos had been considered day-to-day, and outside of coach Jon Cooper saying Thursday morning that he wouldn’t play that night and Saturday against the Panthers, no timetable had been given for his return.
Stamkos led the team in goals when he was hurt with 17 and is currently tied for the lead with Brayden Point. He also leads the team with 10 power-play goals.
It’s not known whether his injury is related to the core muscle issues that prompted two surgeries last year.
Last season, Stamkos missed the last seven games of the regular season before the coronavirus pause because of the first procedure. A recurrence of the injury prevented him from initially participating in the Lightning’s postseason run. He returned for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Dallas, scoring in 2:46 of ice time in the first period, but he reinjured himself on the play and did not play the rest of the series.
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He had a second surgery in the offseason and recovered in time to be a full participant when training camp began.
This season, Stamkos had played in 38 of the Lightning’s first 40 regular-season games, missing two in mid-February while on the COVID-19 protocol list due to what was later determined to be a false positive test result.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
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