Gagne's injury stretching Lightning's bench

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. - With head shots being the NHL’s dirty words these days, the sight of Tampa forward Simon Gagne lying dazed on the Verizon Center ice was just the latest sickening moment of these playoffs.

This time, it wasn’t another player that did the damage as Gagne’s head bounced savagely off the ice 13 minutes into Friday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-final.

Gagne, who has a history of head problems, did not return after being slammed into the boards and then to the surface by Caps defenceman Scott Hannan in what looked like a clean hit. To make matters worse and the bench further shortened, the Lightning lost defenceman Pavel Kubina, who was run into the boards by Washington’s Jason Chimera late in the second.

“The two players are back at the hotel right now and they will be re-evaluated (on Saturday),” Bolts coach Guy Boucher said. “(Gagne) is fine at the hotel now at least which is a lot better than it was looking on the ice.”

As he has done in these playoffs, Boucher started the game with seven defencemen and 11 forwards.

Reduced to 10 men up front - and weary ones at that - the Lightning forwards were forced to dramatically reduce the length of their shifts the rest of the way.

“It demanded a lot of our players, that’s why it’s a bit scary for our team the next game in terms of energy,” Boucher said.

- Rob Longley


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