TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A 5-hour flight home from Calgary on Tuesday was just
part of the reason the only two-day break between games in the Stanley Cup
final came at an ideal time for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Injuries are beginning to take their toll on the Eastern Conference
champions, and the battered and bruised welcomed the extra time to rest and get
ready for Game 5 on Thursday night.
The Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames 1-0 in Game 4 on Monday, despite
playing without key players Ruslan Fedotenko and Pavel Kubina.
An even bigger concern on the trip home was the status of star Vincent
Lecavalier, who sat out the last 4-plus minutes Monday night after having his
head rammed into the side glass by Calgary's Ville Nieminen.
Lightning coach John Tortorella declined Tuesday to discuss the team's
injury situation or whether he expects Lecavalier to be able to play in Game 5.
``To be honest with you, we had a long plane ride home today. I just got
back in, and I'll be talking to my trainer later on ... when he meets with some
of the players,'' Tortorella said. ``But above that, I'm not going to discuss
too much about our injuries.''
However, he conceded he was concerned when he saw Nieminen hit Lecavalier
from behind, drawing a major penalty that forced the Flames to play the last
4:11 of the game short-handed.
Nieminen said after the game that he was not trying to injure Lecavalier,
who needed 10 stitches to close the cut on the side of his head.
``I think any player _ our player, opposing team's player _ when it's
defenseless and it's a blow to the head, you're always concerned about the
health,'' Tortorella said.
``It's a tough game, and it's supposed to be a tough game. But when it comes
to behind-the-back blows to the head, that's where someone is defenseless.''
Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said the hit was ``definitely a penalty,''
though he didn't agree with it being a major.
``It's called a 5-minute penalty because they react to the player going
down,'' Sutter said after the game. ``It's a 2-minute penalty.''
Fedotenko missed Game 4 after being hit by Calgary's Robyn Regehr and
striking the right side of his face where the boards meet the glass late in the
Flames' 3-0 victory in Game 3. Kubina sat out Monday night with a lower body
injury from Game 3.
With Fedotenko and Kubina out, Tampa Bay turned to seldom-used forward Ben
Clymer and center Martin Cibak, neither of whom played in the first three games
of the best-of-seven series. Dmitry Afanasenkov also played well in an
increased role after being put on the Lightning's second line.
Tortorella was asked if the injuries speak to the way the Flames are playing
or are a statement about the way the game is played these days.
``I don't know. ... I think you're talking to the wrong guy about that,'' he