SAN JOSE, Calif. — With D Mark Barberio back in the lineup Thursday after missing two games with an upper-body injury, Tampa Bay reassigned D Dmitry Korobov to Syracuse of the American Hockey League one day after he made his NHL debut Tuesday in Los Angeles.
But Korobov, signed as a free agent last summer, made an impression while he was up with the Lightning, virtually assuring it won’t be his last time up with Tampa Bay.
Though Korobov played in only one game, he was with the team for eight days and practiced with the Lightning every day.
In the game at Los Angeles, Korobov logged 13 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time while skating 18 shifts, registering one hit and an even plus-minus rating in a 5-2 loss.
“I like Korobov. He is definitely an NHL prospect, there is no doubt about it,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Experience is the only thing that he is going to need. Eventually at some point he’s going to end up. If he continues his development, he’s going to end up taking somebody’s (roster) spot.”
The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder brings a physical element — he landed a big hit on Kings captain Dustin Brown during Tuesday’s game that caught Cooper’s attention — but also has a well-rounded defensive game that eventually will land him more NHL time as he continues to develop.
“Those heavy bodies that make guys aware to come around the net, that’s what he is,” Cooper said. “So he just has to work a little bit on his puck skills and has gapping and all those other things that, when you play your first NHL game, they pretty much go out the window anyway because you were so nervous. But I thought he did a good job.”
Back where it began
D Matt Carle started his career with San Jose, and though he left the organization in 2008, returning to face the Sharks continues to hold meaning for the 29-year-old.
“I only played here for two years and a lot has changed, so it wasn’t that long, but it’s still kind of a special place,” Carle said. “It’s the first place that I played, I played my first game, I scored my first goal. I had all those firsts as a pro, so it’s one of those things that I will always remember.”
In addition to having a handful of players experiencing new situations and new buildings — particularly against Western Conference teams — Cooper is also finding his way around arenas for the first time in his first full year in the NHL.
But the first-year head coach has a subtle game plan when it comes to finding his way back to the visiting team locker rooms.
“Basically I have to get off the bus and pretend I’m on my phone and then wait until (the veteran players) get off to walk back to show us where the dressing room is,” Cooper said. “But it’s fun coming to these rinks. ... It’s almost like a different league coming to the West, and aside from dropping our first two games on the trip, it’s been fun to come out here.”
LW Ryan Malone started the season on the top line, then was bumped down to the fourth line for a while. But Thursday he started playing on the second line with C Alex Killorn and RW J.T. Brown.
“You just want to do whatever you can to help out,” said Malone, who had three goals and nine points entering Thursday. “If there’s a little bit more opportunity coming up, I’m excited for it. I’ll just try to make the best of it.”
Nuts and Bolts
Cooper did not commit to starting G Ben Bishop tonight at Anaheim. ... LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie and D Andrej Sustr were scratched. ... C Tom Pyatt and D Keith Aulie continue to practice in red non-contact jerseys. ... Lightning RW Marty St. Louis (933) and Sharks D Dan Boyle (534) rank 1-2 among active undrafted players in scoring.