Lightning’ Steven Stamkos scratched from lineup with lower body injury

The Lightning captain left Saturday’s game with an apparent left leg injury, then took a shot again to the leg on Sunday.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos moves the puck against the Jets on Sunday in Tampa.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos moves the puck against the Jets on Sunday in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published March 14|Updated March 15

NEWARK, N.J. — Steven Stamkos is out of the Lightning lineup for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils with a lower body injury. He is considered day-to-day, according to the team.

All seemed well physically with Stamkos when he returned to the lineup Sunday. A day earlier, in a win over Chicago, he left in the first period with an apparent left knee injury. He took a blocked shot to the same leg Sunday.

Stamkos played the entirety of the 3-2 home loss to Winnipeg, skating for 17:49 of ice time. But he did appear to favor his injured leg after blocking a shot in the first period.

Given Stamkos’ injury history, this could be cause for concern. After falling to the ice Saturday, Stamkos’ left leg locked up on him as he attempted to get back to his feet, and he attempted to flex his knee while favoring the leg as he skated to the bench.

In Sunday’s game, Stamkos blocked a shot at the 4:57 mark in the first period and immediately lifted his left leg. He remained on the ice as the Lightning were locked into their own zone, but he was in obvious pain throughout, hesitant to put weight on his left leg and eventually hobbled to the bench after the puck was cleared.

He did block another shot in the third period, but the TV broadcast replays didn’t show Stamkos in any apparent pain.

Without Stamkos, Brandon Hagel moved up to the Lightning’s top line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Anthony Cirelli returned, after he was knocked out of Sunday’s game against Winnipeg by a hit to the head. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare drew in for the first time in five games as the Lightning’s fourth-line center.

Stamkos, the Lightning’s third-leading scorer with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists), has just one goal in his last 10 games and only three in his last 21 contests. He is playing at a minus-12 over that stretch.

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