TAMPA — Victor Hedman will not play in tonight’s game against the Flyers at Amalie Arena due to an apparent lower-back injury, but it appears the Lightning’s top defenseman will avoid missing an extended amount of time.
Hedman left Sunday’s 6-0 loss at Carolina after sliding awkwardly into the end boards behind the Lightning net. He remained on the ice nearly motionless for several moments, holding his lower back, before slowly getting to his feet with the help of teammates and retreating to the locker room.
He attempted to return later in the game but went back down the tunnel after just an 11-second shift.
“It changes everything,” Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev said of losing Hedman. “He’s the driver of the bus, and he’s our best defenseman by far. When you lose a guy like that, it’s just a big, big part.”
Hedman did not participate in the morning skate. Coach Jon Cooper ruled him out for the game and described his status as day-to-day.
Hedman leads all Lightning skaters with an average ice time of 23:59. His offensive numbers are down after he had 20 goals and 85 points last season. He has six goals and 42 points through 60 games this season.
The Lightning will get top right-shot defenseman Erik Cernak back tonight, Cooper said. Cernak missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.
Hedman’s absence likely means that left-shot defenseman Haydn Fleury will draw into the lineup for the second straight game.
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