ST. LOUIS — The eve of the trade deadline makes for tense hours in NHL locker rooms.
With the clock ticking toward Wednesday's 3 p.m. deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning went about business as usual on Tuesday.
And if things remain status quo for Tampa Bay when the deadline passes, head coach Jon Cooper is just fine with that.
“Sometimes the wish list is doing absolutely nothing at all, we like where we are at,” Cooper said. “Things can be done, things may not be done, but everybody from the owner on down is on the same page. So we'll see what happens, but I'm not concerned.
“We have a good nucleus here and we are probably going to make the biggest deal of the deadline, and it's not what you are thinking. We are going to get (Steven Stamkos) back and no other team is picking up a 60-goal scorer. So, that's good for us.''
Stamkos has been out for nearly four months, since breaking the tibia in his right leg on Nov. 11. Twice in the past month he felt ready to play, only to have doctors tell him no.
After skating pain free for the past week-plus, Stamkos hopes to be cleared medically following a Wednesday check up and to play Thursday when Tampa Bay opens a six-game home stand against Buffalo.
“It feels way better than it did a month ago and it's only going to continue to get better,” Stamkos said. “We've been skating and pushing it off the ice. ...It feels as good as it's going to get for the rest of this year. It feels pretty much the same as my other leg.
“But it's not based on how I feel, it's how the X-ray looks and I'm hoping the third time is the charm.''
Filppula back, others unsure
C Valtteri Filppula returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing four games and nearly a month of time with a non-displaced fracture in his ankle. After testing it several times the past few days, Filppula said there is enough strength in the ankle.
“It feels good and I'm excited,” said Filppula, second on the team with 20 goals and 41 points. “I haven't played in a while and it's good to get back.''
D Radko Gudas, who left Sunday's game with an apparent left leg injury, sat out Tuesday and is scheduled to undergo an MRI when the team returns home on Wednesday to see if there is any damage that will keep him out of the lineup longer.
“I feel really good, not 100-percent, but we'll wait to see what the doctor says when we get back home,'' Gudas said. “Hopefully I'll be able to get back as soon as possible.''
C Tyler Johnson did not participate in the morning skate while nursing a sore foot but was on the ice for warmups and in the lineup. Johnson took a puck off his foot Feb. 4 in Minnesota. He scored his 18th goal of the season on the power play in the first period.
Lindback is back
G Anders Lindback returned to the team following a two-game conditioning assignment in the minors to test the ankle he sprained Jan. 30 in Ottawa.
“Everything feels good; it was a good test in those two games,'' said Lindback, who pitched a shutout in his first game and went 1-1 with Syracuse in the AHL. “It was fun, I felt like I was seeing the puck well and I was excited to be back to playing, so it was a good trip.''
Nuts and Bolts
In addition to Gudas, the Lightning also scratched D Mike Kostka and C Vladislav Namestnikov. ... LW Alex Killorn played his 100th career NHL game. ... RW Marty St. Louis tied Andy Bathgate for 84th on the all-time scoring list with 973 points with a first-period assist. ... Tampa Bay opens a six-game homestand on Thursday.