TAMPA — The timing for Tampa Bay Lightning F Tom Pyatt proved to be all wrong.
After waiting until the third game of the season to see his first action, Pyatt will miss the next two months after suffering a fractured collarbone during the third period of Tuesday’s victory at Buffalo. Pyatt was injured on a hit from Sabres F Marcus Foligno at the 6:27 mark.
“The guy finished me pretty hard into the boards, and I’m pretty sure I felt a crunch so I knew something was up,’’ said Pyatt, who has 20 goals and 35 points in 118 games with Tampa Bay. “He hit me good and I was in a bad spot.’’
Pyatt said no surgery is required and he will be in a sling for two to three weeks. After that, it is just rest and doing some conditioning work on a stationary bike as the fracture heals. Having to sit out games will be difficult for the 26-year-old now in his third season with Tampa Bay.
“I get back in, I felt pretty good out there, and to only play one game, it sucks,’’ Pyatt said. “It’s very frustrating, I was pretty (ticked) off after, but that’s the game, injuries happen, and I just have to deal with it, stay positive and do what you can to deal with things.’’
Passing No. 4
With his first-period goal, captain Marty St. Louis registered point No. 916 in his career to move past Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr into 94th place on the all-time NHL scoring list. Next up is Neal Broten, who had 923 points.
For the cup
This year’s four regular-season meetings between Tampa Bay and Florida will mean more to the winner than points in the standings with the inception of the Governor’s Cup in conjunction with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Cup will be awarded following the final meeting on March 13 to the team that wins the season series, while each team will make a donation to the other team’s youth hockey initiatives.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper is new to the in-state rivalry, but he has been told about it.
“I haven’t been here that long, but I’ve been told that the Panthers have been a pain in the rear end for this organization for quite some time,’’ Cooper said of Tampa Bay’s 42-47-21 all-time record against Florida. “It’s not going to be eye-opening that they are going to play us tough. But you know how these games are. We are two teams in the south, this is our biggest rival and they are a lot of fun.’’
It might have seemed a bit strange to see D Victor Hedman drop his gloves against Buffalo’s Steve Ott, one of the Sabres’ tougher players, in Tuesday’s game. But Hedman has bought into Cooper’s message to be a tougher team to play against, no matter who they are playing, and he needed to get himself into the game.
“The first couple of games, I wasn’t at a level I wanted to be at, so I kind of need a wake-up call and I told myself to go out and play hard,’’ Hedman said. “That’s the type of player that I am. I’m very impulsive, and he hit me after the whistle and I got mad. One thing led to another. I thought it was good for me to kind of not only prove that to myself, but make sure that I’m tough to play against and make sure that everyone knows that.’’
Though it might not be ideal for the Lightning’s top defenseman to take himself out of the game for five minutes while risking injury in a fight, Cooper had no issue with how things went.
“By no means do we think Victor Hedman is going to be dropping the gloves every night, but you can see that he is willing to, and not only his teammates will know that but other people will know as well,’’ Cooper said. “Maybe that will create space for him out there, who knows. But I thought the kid stuck up for himself and I was proud of him for it.’’
Nuts and Bolts
RW Richard Panik and D Andrej Sustr returned to the lineup after being scratched Tuesday. ... G Ben Bishop picked up his first career assist on Ondrej Palat’s second-period goal. ... C Steven Stamkos registered his 37th career multi-goal game. ... D Keith Aulie and D Mark Barberio were scratched.