The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ryan Callahan has not played since leaving midway through the Edmonton game because of a lower-body injury.
The 29-year-old forward might be rejoining the Bolts lineup sooner than expected, however.
Initially feared to be sidelined for a couple weeks, Callahan is eyeing Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals for a possible return. At practice Wednesday following the Bolts’ blowout win over Arizona the night before, Callahan put in nearly a full training session.
“You have to wait and see how it reacts to the treatment, how much damage you did,” Callahan said. “It responded well. This is good news, and today was a good skate.”
Callahan was inactive for three days following the injury in Edmonton but got back out on the ice for the first time in Winnipeg.
“We kind of just wanted more than anything that day just get my legs moving a little bit because I hadn’t done anything the last couple of days,” Callahan said. “It’s improved tremendously since then, and as you can see, a full practice today.”
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Callahan is doubtful to play tomorrow against Philadelphia but would be questionable or probable for Saturday.
“I don’t see myself playing tomorrow,” Callahan said. “I think Coop’s saying Saturday. That’s what we’re eyeballing…I think a lot of it just rides on how I feel tomorrow after that skate today.”
Saturday’s 7-2 disaster in Minnesota was a bit of a stunner for a Lightning team that hadn’t fallen by more than a goal in three losses entering the contest.
Tampa Bay saw Tuesday’s game against Arizona as a chance for redemption.
“I think getting thumped was a little bit of an eye opener for us,” Cooper said. “Nobody wants to do that. They’re proud guys…We’re embarrassed by it. It’s tough going through that, especially when the score’s a little out of hand early…It’s gratifying to have a game like we did last night to kind of wash it away.”
Cooper suggested returning home to Amalie Arena and having a day of rest – the Bolts took Sunday off – helped spark Tuesday night’s 7-3 defeat of Arizona.
“There is something to be said about being worn down,” Cooper said. “That was a long road for us. I think we got back home and we were just a rejuvenated group and one thing I liked, we turned the page. You’ve got to be able to turn the page on those. It’s one of 82.”
Lightning forward Alex Killorn made his return to the Tampa Bay lineup on Tuesday, skating with the Bolts top line of Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos.
Killorn had been absent since catching a blade at pre-game skate in Edmonton and crashing hard into the boards. He missed four-straight games.
“You don’t expect it to happen in pre-game skate,” Killorn said. “There wasn’t any contact at all. It’s just I was skating fast and the puck was coming into my skates and I tried to catch it but when I opened up I caught the ice the wrong way so I just fell.”
Killorn’s first fear as he sat on the Edmonton ice was that he had damaged his neck.
“It’s really scary. When you go in that fast, you don’t have any time to react or to kind of protect your body,” he said. “I hit the boards, and I just prayed that I protected my neck. That’s always the first thing I do: neck and the head. I did hit my head a little bit, but I protected my neck.”
Killorn said the injury was painful, particularly because it hurt when breathing. He started skating again three days following the Edmonton game but mostly light work. He didn’t take any contact until this Monday.
“I wasn’t really able to do things,” Killorn said. “It was just really tight, my back was really tight. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do on the ice, so I would have been kind of useless out there. You just need time to rest your body obviously. It’s a pretty big hit.”
Killorn skated 19 shifts against Arizona and recorded one assist in 18:13 of time on ice.