Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson skated with the Bolts during Monday’s post-All-Star Game practice session before the team boarded a plane for Carolina, but his status for Tuesday’s game versus the Hurricanes is unknown.
Johnson was selected for his first All-Star Game but was unable to participate because of a lingering lower-body injury.
“Encouraging to see him out there [at practice], but don’t read into anything, he’ll be a game-time decision at best tomorrow,” Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper said.
Johnson missed Tampa Bay’s road game January 13 at Boston after he was injured the previous day against Philadelphia. Johnson played in the Bolts’ three home games prior to the All-Star break but re-aggravated the injury against Vancouver (Jan. 20) and was used sparingly down the stretch in that game.
Johnson traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for All-Star weekend but had to sit during Saturday’s Skills Competition and Sunday’s All-Star Game.
“It’s disappointing,” Johnson said. “Obviously, you want to be able to be there and be able to play, but there’s other things that are more important.”
Johnson said the five days of rest helped, but the injury could need more time to heal.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “It’s still there, so.”
While he didn’t get to play in the All-Star Game, Johnson said the experience was one he’ll never forget.
“It was cool to meet everybody,” he said. “It was cool to be there and see the fans, go through all that. Disappointing to be there and not be able to do anything, but, at the same time, it was a lot of fun.”
Johnson leads the Lightning in scoring (48 points) and assists (31) and is tied with Nikita Kucherov for the second-most goals (17) on the Bolts.
Cooper said the Lightning were unlikely to bring a player up from the team’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse for tomorrow’s game against the Hurricanes.
“I wouldn’t expect so because we’ve got the D too, and so we’ve got enough players and all guys we like,” Cooper said.