Namestnikov, Johnson, and Paquette injured in match against Minnesota

Three left legs. What are the chances?

Brian Boyle is in Toronto. Valtteri Filppula is in Philadelphia. Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Johnson, and Cedric Paquette are all injured.

Between trades and injuries, the Lightning have lost five centers in the last 11 days.

After an impossibly hopeful two goals in the first period tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning got hammered in the second -- not by goals, but by injuries. The first man down was Vladislav Namestnikov, who at around four minutes in, got tangled up on a fluky play against the boards by Zach Parise.

The collision impacted Namestnikov's left knee, which he grabbed when he went down onto the ice. The Bolts trainer Tom Mulligan attended to him, immediately taking him off the ice for further treatment. He was skated off by Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn, putting no weight on the leg.

Andrej Sustr got on the board not long after of a pass from Kucherov, and somehow it surprised Devan Dubnyk to make the score 3-0, Bolts.

Very shortly after that, Nino Niederreiter hammered Tyler Johnson into the boards, bringing up his knee to impact Johnson's left knee. When Johnson fell to the ice after the collision, he was also unable to get to his feet until Mulligan skated out to attend to him. Johnson skated off with help from Stralman and Jacob Dotchin, unable to put weight on his left knee.

Has this ended the season for Johnson and Namestnikov? These two players were two of the toughest Bolts this season, with Johnson playing 53 before sitting out a game with an injury. It takes a tough hit to make one of these players leave the ice, and we might've seen it tonight. Near the end of the second, the Bolts announced that neither player would return.

Near the end of the third period, Cedric Paquette tried to pull Niederreiter away from a scrum near Vasilevskiy’s net by pulling at him from behind. The Bolts forward in front of Niederreiter shoved, and Paquette was trapped underneath a large falling Wild player. He bent his left knee and ankle back in an awkward way, and yep, totally got Mulligan’d off the ice.

The Bolts played the rest of the game with eight forwards; nine if you count natural defenseman Witkowski who was asked to play forward tonight. We'll update their health status (hah, as if we'll get any real information) in the game recap later tonight.

UPDATE: Jon Cooper briefly discussed the injuries in his post-game press conference.

Question: It never looks good when a player gets helped off the ice. Did you get any feel for - maybe some are better than they looked out there?

Cooper: No, I would say it looked like... It doesn’t sound encouraging for any of them. But, again, it’s not my job. I don’t know exactly. I think - well you saw the replay on Ceddy’s [Paquette]. That didn’t look good at all. So, I don’t know. We’ll see tomorrow, but they’ve all got lower-body injuries. It would be - if we got one of them for Saturday [vs. the Florida Panthers], that would be a blessing. That’s where we’re at. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.

Question: Does it help that you have a guy like Greg McKegg here, maybe to step in?

Cooper: Well we’ve got guys - we’ve got NHL players here. That’s big because our lineup’s got a bunch of guys from the American League that are playing and they’re playing their guts out. Losing some guys that have been in the league for a little bit here and now guys have to step in. So, like I said, let’s not jump to conclusions. Let’s wait to see what the medical reports are on these guys. We got Kegger [Greg McKegg] and Brownie [J.T. Brown] waiting in the wings. We all know what Brownie can do for us. The one good thing is McKegg is a center. so that’ll help if he has to come in.

At least Namestnikov and Johnson seem like they might be okay.