TAMPA — The Lightning received some bad news Tuesday afternoon. Top-line, shutdown center Brayden Point will miss the next four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Point, who has seven goals and 13 points in 16 games, would be out until late December-early January in that timeline.
Point was scratched from Sunday’s 5-4 shootout win against the Wild, the day after he slid into the boards against the Devils after being tripped on a breakaway by defenseman Ryan Graves.
Point took most of the hit to his left side/shoulder. He stayed down for a few seconds, clearly in pain, before getting up under his own power and skating toward the team bench.
Awarded a penalty shot on the third-period play, Point took it — he missed — and played the remaining 10 minutes of the 5-3 loss.
On Tuesday night, the Lightning’s depth helped overcome Point’s absence in a 4-0 win over the Flyers.
“We’ve dealt with this kind of stuff before,” captain Steven Stamkos said after the game. “Our depth has always been the key to our success. A lot of people have been talking about the guys that left (in the offseason), but we have some really good players that came in, including the young guys who have really stepped up.”
Forwards Nikita Kucherov and Gemel Smith remain sidelined with lower-body injuries. Kucherov is expected out until next month; Smith was hurt in training camp.
Defenseman Erik Cernak, out with an upper-body injury, is nearing a return. On Tuesday, he skated in a red no-contact jersey with the team for the first time. He has been week to week since taking a shot on his left arm in a loss to Carolina on Nov. 9.
Veteran forward Corey Perry, one of the offseason arrivals, knows that great teams make adjustments.
“Those are big holes to fill,” Perry said. “But every team goes through it, and every team every single year, there’s (someone) on a different team that’s going through the same thing. Those are big players coming out of our lineup, and I thought guys have been stepping up and doing the little things and continuing to push.”
The Lightning recalled forward Alex Barre-Boulet before Sunday’s victory. He skated on the top line with Stamkos and Ondrej Palat, and has scored two goals since his return.
The Lightning also have had to adjust special-teams groups. On the first power-play unit, Anthony Cirelli has moved to the net area, and Alex Killorn has shifted to the slot. Palat and Stamkos are in the circles and Victor Hedman at the point.
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Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.
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