The stellar play of Martin St. Louis has been a big reason for the Tampa Bay Lightning's current surge, and it would be a major blow if his current injury kept him out for any amount of time.
St. Louis' status is uncertain as the Lightning seek their fifth victory in six games when they host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
The Tampa Bay captain became the oldest player in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy last season at age 37, and he's scored four goals while adding six assists since going without a point in a season-opening loss to Boston.
St. Louis trails only Sidney Crosby's 12 points for most in the league after scoring twice and adding an assist in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Los Angeles.
"He still considers himself a young kid," coach Jon Cooper said of the 38-year old.
St. Louis, though, took a shot off his foot Tuesday and is listed as day to day with a lower-body injury. Winger Brett Connolly, the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2010, was recalled from the AHL on Wednesday.
"From all indications, it's nothing that is alarmingly serious," Cooper said. "I don't want to jump to any conclusions. There's always a chance when you're day to day. We'll see what (Thursday) brings."
Cooper, though, didn't seem concerned even if his club has to play without St. Louis. Thursday's contest will mark Tampa Bay's fourth on a seven-game homestand.
"Marty will be the first one to tell you that it's not about one person," Cooper said. "You have to be ready at any moment to jump into anyone else's spot. Obviously it wouldn't be a seamless transition because of what he brings to our team, but we have enough depth that we should be able to survive."
Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and Valtteri Filppula are tied with St. Louis for the team lead in goals. Purcell had a goal and an assist Tuesday and has four goals and four assists during a five-game point streak.
"We're working hard and doing the right things and we're getting rewarded with goals," Purcell said.
That wasn't the story for Minnesota on Tuesday, as it fell 4-1 to Toronto despite holding a 37-14 shot advantage. Jason Pominville scored the lone goal for the Wild (3-2-2), who had won three straight.
"There's no consolation in us coming here and saying, `Oh we outshot them, we outplayed them,'' said forward Zach Parise, who assisted on the goal. "We didn't win.'
Coach Mike Yeo had similar thoughts, and he'll be looking for his team to come out hard again against the Lightning.
"We could be sitting here talking about how we won four games in a row, but the one thing about moral victories - if there are such things - is that they don't mean anything if you don't come out and respond the next game," Yeo said. "That should motivate you."
Yeo isn't certain if goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who hasn't played since suffering a knee strain against Nashville on Oct. 8, will be healthy enough to start this contest. If he can't go, Josh Harding, who is 3-1-0 with a 0.94 goals-against average in three starts and two relief appearances, likely will get the nod.
"(Backstrom) looked good (in practice)," Yeo said. "I'll have to talk to (the trainers) to see if he's ready to get back up."
Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop has won each of his four starts while posting a 1.71 GAA after making 30 saves Tuesday, though he's also day to day with a lower-body injury. Anders Lindback has lost both of his starts with a 4.07 GAA.
Minnesota is 5-1-1 in its last seven meetings with the Lightning.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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