TAMPA — This probably wasn’t the way Ryan McDonagh wanted Lightning fans to see him in his return to Tampa.
He did a lot of dirty work in his five seasons with the Lightning. McDonagh was the team’s top shot blocker, a rock on the penalty kill and a calming presence in the back end. As coach Jon Cooper often said, McDonagh was the definition of a “gamer.”
After taking a blocked shot to the face Friday night against the Islanders, McDonagh — traded in the offseason to the Predators — was unable to play in his first game back at Amalie Arena as an opponent Thursday night.
He arrived with a black, right eye and his face still swollen from the injury. During the first period, a highlight video played and McDonagh received a standing ovation from the Tampa crowd.
“Those are special opportunities,” McDonagh said Thursday morning of coming back. “Then, for the first time being back here in Tampa in this building, I tried my best to make it work because a lot of great memories here in my time and really thankful for my time here.”
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