Ailing Lightning returns home to face Devils

October 30, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning return home Tuesday from a five-game road trip to host a playoff rematch against the New Jersey Devils.

But Tampa Bay faces the Devils without Norris Trophy winning defenseman Victor Hedman and Selke-caliber forward Ondrej Palat. Both players were injured on the recent road trip and expected to miss at least the next two games.

Hedman suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the second period against Vegas on Friday when he was hit by Ryan Reaves and fell awkwardly in to the boards, appearing to injury his shoulder/back area. Palat was also injured against the Golden Knights midway through the third period when he blocked a shot off his foot.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said on Monday that Hedman, who was schedule to be evaluated at the end of the week, could now miss more time than originally thought while the team is waiting on further testing to determine Palat's absence while listing him as day-to-day.

"Victor will be re-evaluated here, but we are not expecting him back right away,'' Cooper said. "And Palat we are waiting for some more information.''

Both players have been ruled out for through the end of the week while a pair of weekend road games at Montreal and Ottawa look "doubtful'' at this point, according to the Lightning coach.

"Anytime you miss one game, I think that's a lot of time,'' Cooper said. "But the games will add up here, especially we're playing every second night now and games are back-to-backs, when you miss a week or two that means you are missing six or seven games, which is tough. But both guys are healing and hopefully they'll be back soon.''

While the Lightning are dealing with injuries, the Devils are getting healthier.

Goaltender Corey Schneider, who has been out since the start of the season, has returned from a three-game conditioning assignment in the American Hockey League and will join the team to start the seven-game road trip that will keep the Devils away from Prudential Center through Nov. 11. New Jersey head coach John Hynes said Schneider will make an appearance at some point on the trip. Eddie Lack, who had been serving as the backup to Keith Kinkaid, was sent to Binghamton on Monday for a conditioning assignment.

"He's going to play, but right now what I think is important is that we take it day-by-day with the goalies," Hynes told the Bergen County Record. "Keith is going to go [against the Lightning] and then we've got Wednesday into Thursday to see where he is. But we do have a back-to-back coming up and we've got a lot of games coming up."

In addition to Schneider, injured defenseman Ben Lovejoy was back at practice for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on Oct. 28 while forward Drew Stafford practiced with the team for the first time since Oct. 20 when he suffered an upper-body injury against Philadelphia on Oct. 20.

While Stafford will remain behind to start the trip, he is expected to join the team at some point. Lovejoy, along with forward Jesper Bratt - who has been out with a broken jaw - will also travel as he awaits clearance to return to full contact.



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