EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)Dallas Stars forward Blake Comeau left Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final with an injury after taking a big, high hit from Tampa Bay’s Ryan McDonagh in the second period.
McDonagh made hard contact with Comeau’s right shoulder on the hit. Comeau was slow to get up and immediately went down the tunnel.
The Stars announced at the beginning of the third period that Comeau was unfit to play. The 34-year-old is an important veteran role player for Dallas, which lost 3-2 as the Lightning evened the series.
”That was tough,” said interm coach Rick Bowness, who didn’t have an update as expected and hopes Comeau could return for Game 3 Wednesday. ”He’s a big part of our club, the leadership, the compete, the penalty killing. He’s on that checking line. Losing him hurt us. There’s no question.”
Comeau has played 15 minutes a game this postseason and has two goals and five assists.
The Lightning made lineup changes to catch up to the Stars after a Game 1 loss: one for injury and one to better combat the style of play.
Veteran defensemen Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn came out and were replaced on the blue line by Jan Rutta and up front with Carter Verhaeghe. Rutta had not played a game since Aug. 5.
”The good thing for him is he has played in this tournament,” said coach Jon Cooper, who liked Rutta’s game after shaking the rust off early. ”Situations can dictate lineups. We felt after Game 1 this was situation for him to excel.”
Cooper abandoned the mix of 11 forwards and seven defensemen that was very successful since the second round. He returned to the more traditional 12 and six.
Schenn appeared to be ”unfit to play” after taking a big hit Saturday night, while Bogosian went through the paces at the morning skate, indicating he was a healthy scratch.
Tampa Bay is still without captain Steven Stamkos, who hasn’t played since February because of a core muscle injury that required surgery in March. Stamkos had a setback over the summer when it looked like he was on track to return and could make his playoff debut in Game 3 Wednesday.
KUCHEROV CRACKS VISOR
When Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov crashed into the boards early in the game, he went down the tunnel but said it wasn’t because he was injured. Kucherov cracked his visor and needed a new one.
”I went back in the room and changed it,” Kucherov said. ”Nothing bad happened.”
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports