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Lightning defenseman Hedman leaves with injury

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who entered play Saturday leading all NHL defensemen with seven points (three goals), left midway through the second period of a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks because of an upper-body injury and did not return.

The Lightning will likely play the remainder of their five-game road trip, which continues Monday at the Edmonton Oilers, without Hedman; he is returning to Tampa for further evaluation.

"He's probably done for the trip," coach Jon Cooper said. "It's unreal how these things happen but he is going to go back to Tampa and get re-evaluated. We're hoping for the best."

Hedman appeared to shake his right hand after he blocked a shot on his final shift, but Cooper declined to comment on the specific nature of the injury.

The 23-year-old Swede was fourth among NHL defenseman with 55 points, and off to a strong start to his sixth season with goals in three of four games. Hedman had a career-high 55 points (13 goals, 42 assists) in 75 games last season.

"You just feel for Heddy," Cooper said of his 6-foot-6 defenseman. "He's come out of the gate so strong, he's poised just to build on the year he had last year and now he might be sidelined here for a little bit. I really feel for him."

The Lightning expect to get defenseman Radko Gudas, who skated Saturday morning before he missed his second straight game because of a lower-body injury, back shortly.

"We're going to test our depth," Cooper said. "It just puts a little more pressure on the 'D' core as a whole but we played two-thirds of the game without [Hedman] tonight and I thought our guys stood pretty strong."

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