Stamkos out until May for Lightning with lower-body injury

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Steven Stamkos was placed on long-term injured reserve by the Tampa Bay Lightning with a lower-body injury Thursday.

The move is retroactive to April 9. The forward can be activated after 10 games from that date, making him eligible to return May 1 when the Lightning visit the Detroit Red Wings. They will have six regular-season games remaining at that point.

Stamkos was injured in the third period of a 6-4 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 8 and did not play at the Nashville Predators on Saturday and Tuesday to end a four-game road trip. He also missed two games Feb. 11 and 13 with a lower-body injury.

The Lightning captain has scored 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games this season and is tied with center Brayden Point for the Tampa Bay lead in goals.

The Lightning (29-12-2) defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime at home Thursday and are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for first in the eight-team Discover Central Division. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Forward Alex Killorn said he expects his teammates to raise their game in Stamkos’ absence.

“A guy like ‘Stammer’ goes out, our captain, as leaders on the team, a few of us I thought have to step up,” Killorn said. “I think [tonight] when you look at the game, the first period wasn’t great, they outshot us (38-19), but we found a way to win.”

Stamkos had surgery to repair an abdominal core muscle March 2, 2020. He missed most of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a lower-body injury but played five shifts for 2:47 in Game 3 of the Cup Final against the Dallas Stars and scored a goal in the 5-2 victory. The Lightning won the best-of-7 series in six games.

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