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Reason No. 25 why hockey players might be the toughest athletes on the planet: Last night, despite taking a puck in the upper lip that did enough damage to require 64 stitches, Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros wanted to return to the game in the third period. Unfortunately, the damage was so extensive the three doctors attending to Meszaros didn’t complete the repairs until well after the game was complete. Lightning Coach Rick Tocchet said he expects Meszaros to play tonight against Atlanta, though he’ll be wearing a face shield.
The other good news today is that defenseman Lukas Krajicek will skate warmups and is hopeful of playing today as well. If he can go the team will have to send back one of the defenseman currently on emergency recall from Norfolk, likely Ty Wishart, who made his NHL debut last night. Defenseman Paul Ranger is still recovering from his upper body injury and though he appears anxious to get back in the lineup, it’s been determined that the four more days of rest he can get before Thursday’s game in Phoenix would be beneficial. Jussi Jokinen, who missed last night’s game with a lower body injury, will skate warmups and likely will be back in.
Tocchet said Mike Smith will play again tonight, and that he’s not concerned about Smith getting fatigued.
“I’m not worried about that,” Tocchet said. “He’s probably in better shape than almost all of the goalies in the league. I think it’s a good idea to get him back in there again. He usually plays well against Atlanta.”
After tonight’s 5 p.m. game in Atlanta the team will hop on a charter flight to Phoenix, which will be home base until Thursday.