DETROIT — The Lightning might be without D Jason Garrison for an extended period after he was run into the end boards by Detroit C Justin Abdelkeder early in the first period of Saturday’s game.
As Garrison went to play the puck behind his own net, Abdelkeder leaned into Garrison’s back with his shoulder and sent Garrison awkwardly into the end boards.
Abdelkeder received a two-minute boarding call. Garrison left in discomfort, did not return and headed back to Tampa for further evaluation.
“I thought the hit was a pretty dirty hit,’’ G Ben Bishop said.
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper was asked his feelings on the hit after the game.
“Is that the get-me-in-trouble question?’’ he said. “Square behind, on the numbers in a vulnerable spot, guys have got multiple-game (suspensions) for that hit. But the game happens fast. They saw it a certain way. And I’ve seen that not called, seen guys get five (minute majors) out of it. We got a two. Abby is an honest player, plays the game hard and because he plays the game hard, he’s going to find himself in situations like that. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it, but it was a tough spot to hit him.’’
A tweet sent out by NHL Department of Player Safety vice president Damian Echevarrieta indicated there would be no supplementary discipline. He accompanied the tweet with an education video directing viewers toward the part of the tape entitled “Contact Along the Boards’’ and “Losing the Physical Battle.’’
LW Brenden Morrow returned to the lineup, giving Tampa Bay a fully healthy forward group to start the game. With C Vladislav Namestnikov up on an emergency recall, it would normally have meant that Namestnikov would need to be returned to Syracuse of the American Hockey League.
But with how well Namestnikov has played since being recalled March 5, the former first-round draft pick will remain with the team seemingly for the rest of the regular season as the team used a regular recall to keep him on the roster. The Lightning have one regular recall remaining.
“We are getting down to the final (six) games of the season and he’s part of our team,’’ Cooper said. “He made our club out of camp, and we want him to play.’’
The college career of Lightning prospect Matthew Peca ended Friday when Quinnipiac was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, and Minnesota junior G Adam Wilcox saw his season come to an end with a loss to Minnesota-Duluth.
Both players were drafted in 2011 and are eligible to become free agents and sign with any team. Wilcox, who has one more year of college eligibility remaining, could submit a letter-of-intent to the Lightning, and if unsigned after 30 days, would be free to sign with any team. Peca, as a four-year college player, would have to wait until Aug. 15 to become a free agent.
Chris McAlpine, the adviser for Wilcox, said on Saturday that there was nothing to report on Wilcox’s situation.
Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman said the plan is to reach out to both players to determine what they have in mind. Both players would be eligible to join Syracuse of the American Hockey League for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
“I’ll talk to them and see what their plans are,’’ Yzerman said. “Matthew is a senior and his college experience is done, and our hope is to sign him. Adam has another year of eligibility, and it’s his decision on whether he stays or wants to leave. So we’ll reach out to him and see what he wants to do.’’
Nuts and Bolts
D Mark Barberio and RW J.T. Brown were scratched. ... D Nikita Nesterov played his first game since March 12. ... LW Ondrej Palat, LW Jonathan Drouin and Nesterov all celebrated birthdays on Saturday. ... Tampa Bay was last shut out in the final game of last season, but wound up picking up the victory in a shootout at Washington. The last time the Lightning were shut out in a loss was Dec. 14, 2013, at New Jersey.