TAMPA — Two days after being knocked unconscious by a hit from Montreal’s Douglas Murray, Tampa Bay Lightning D Mike Kostka said he had no recollection of the hit that knocked him out or waking up on the ice.
But all things considered, Kostka said he feels good despite being diagnosed with a concussion that will keep him out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time.
“We are just taking it day to day and see how I feel,’’ Kostka said. “I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would, not that it’s ever happened to be before, and I don’t have a baseline to compare it to, as how I would feel after something like that, but I feel good.’’
Murray had a hearing with the league Thursday morning and received a three-game suspension after taking a match penalty for a hit to the head during the game.
Kostka said he has looked at replays and called the elbow Murray delivered to his jaw was “a nasty, scary looking hit’’ but he doesn’t believe Murray meant to injure him on the play. Murray sent Kostka a text message after the game and apologized.
“That was a classy move,’’ Kostka said. “I don’t think it was malicious that he was trying to do that, but needless to say it was a bad hit.’’
The league agreed with Kostka when explaining the three-game suspension via a video release from the NHL Department of Player Safety.
“Murray rises up and delivers a forceful blow to Kostka’s head, making it the main point of contact and causing serious injury,’’ according to the video explanation. “While we accept Murray’s claim that there was no malicious intent on this hit, he is not successful in making a full-body check, instead Murray ends up picking the head with an extended arm.’’
Getting a chance
With Kostka out, D Mark Barberio received the first opportunity to fill the open spot on the defensive pairing with D Eric Brewer. Barberio had been a healthy scratch for two weeks before getting back into the lineup on Sunday. Though Barberio was not in Tuesday’s lineup, he hopes to have the opportunity to build on his most recent game in Detroit.
“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt ... but I just want to keep my speed up, I want to move the puck up fast,’’ Barberio said. “Hopefully I can get a little bit of offense going and get some more shots.’’
Lightning coach Jon Cooper hinted that in the final five games of the season, other defensemen might get a chance.
“It’s Mark, eventually it will be Keith (Aulie) and who knows who comes up from Syracuse at some point,’’ Cooper said. “But this happens, and whether it was today, tomorrow or in the playoffs, injuries happen, and that’s why you have some depth.’’
LW Ondrej Palat scored his 20th goal of the season, becoming the fourth rookie in team history to reach the 20-goal mark.
C Brad Richards was the first rookie to do it when he scored 21 during the 2000-01 season, while C Steven Stamkos finished with 23 goals in 2008-09. Earlier this season, C Tyler Johnson became the third rookie to ever score 20 goals. Johnson tied Stamkos’ single-season rookie record with his 23rd goal in Tuesday’s game against Montreal.
Palat entered Thursday trailing Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon by five points for second in rookie scoring, while Johnson was tied with MacKinnon for goals by a rookie.
Nuts and Bolts
Prospect G Andrey Vasilevskiy opened play for Salavat in the Kontinental Hockey League semifinals on Thursday with a 3-2 loss to Mettalurg, which is backstopped by Vasily Koshechkin, a former Lightning draft pick. Vasilevskiy, the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, stopped 23 of 26 shots to take the loss. ... Tampa Bay scratched Aulie, C Tom Pyatt, RW Richard Panik and C Cody Kunyk. ... Tom Kurvers, Tampa Bay’s senior advisor to the general manager, has been named by USA Hockey to the advisory board for the 2014 World Championships. ... Tampa Bay G Ben Bishop and Calgary D Chris Butler grew up and played youth hockey together in St. Louis.