Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Boyle has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury but could return to the lineup tonight when the Bolts host the Colorado Avalanche at Amalie Arena.
Boyle took part in Tampa Bay’s morning skate and centered a line with Alex Killorn on his left wing and J.T. Brown to his right during rushes.
Boyle has two goals and two assists on the season, both of those assists coming in his last three games before the injury.
Fellow forward Cedric Paquette, however, is unlikely to play versus the Avalanche. Paquette injured his lower left leg while blocking a shot in a preseason game against Dallas and missed the Lightning’s first four regular season games while recovering.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Paquette has re-aggravated the injury but shouldn’t be out long. Paquette also sat the Bolts’ 2-0 loss in St. Louis on Tuesday.
“He’s probably on the wrong side of playing tonight I would say,” Cooper said. “That’s tough for us, especially we’ve been struggling to score goals here the last few games, and he’s one of those guys that he’s got a welcome mat to the dirty areas and is not afraid to go there. We’ve got to find a way without him.”
With Paquette unlikely and Boyle up in the air, the Lightning recalled Jonathan Marchessault from their AHL affiliate in Syracuse Thursday afternoon for insurance. Marchessault has three goals and two assists in seven games for the Crunch this season.
“We can’t show up tonight and potentially have 10 forwards, so, insurance, yeah,” Cooper said.
The Lightning were shut out in each of their last two games, the first time the Bolts haven’t scored a goal in consecutive games since the 2013-14 season (Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2013).
Last season, the Lightning were shut out just once during the entire regular season.
“You’ve just got to keep fighting your way through it and understand, we tell our guys all the time, as long as you’re getting chances, you’re doing something right,” Cooper said. “Eventually, they’re going to go in, and you know how it goes, once one goes in, they all go in.”
Getting more shots on net was a common line from players in the locker room following morning skate. The Lightning didn’t have more than 30 shots in regulation during any game on the recently-completed four-game road trip through the Central Division.
The Bolts rank 26th in the National Hockey League for shots on goal per game (26.9).
“You’re not going to score many goals when you shoot 20, 25 shots a game,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who leads the Bolts in scoring with nine points (all assists). “For us, it’s back to basics, throwing pucks at nets and that’s going to give us more chances of creating rebounds and retrieve pucks. That’s got to be our goal going into this game: put more pucks on net and make sure we have traffic in front.”
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who stopped 22-of-23 St. Louis shots in Tuesday’s loss, said he doesn’t put more pressure on himself to make saves when his team is having trouble scoring.
“These guys are really good in front of me,” he said. “They’ve scored a lot of goals the last few years, so I’m not too worried about them.”
The Lightning led the NHL in goals in 2014-15, setting a franchise record with 259 during the regular season.
Cooper said forward Alex Killorn, who has just one goal in nine games this season, is on the cusp of getting on the score sheet. Killorn led the team for shots (10) during their four-game road trip. “Those doesn’t even count the posts he hit,” Cooper said. “So you throw those in the mix, there’s somebody who looks like he’s ready to break out.”…Bishop was the first goalie off the ice for morning skate and will likely start his 10th game of the season tonight vs. Colorado. Bishop surpassed the 10,000 career minute milestone Tuesday in St. Louis…Hedman leads the Lightning in scoring with nine points but has yet to record a goal this season…The Lightning are in the midst of a season-high stretch where eight games out of 10 come on the road. Tonight’s game against Colorado and Saturday versus Boston are the only home games breaking up two separate four-game road trips…The Lightning have yet to lead a game after the first period this season.