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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Bolts notes: Filppula’s ankle better, not game ready

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Lightning open the post-Olympic break stretch without second-leading scorer Valtteri Filppula.

Despite two weeks off during the break and practicing each of the previous three days, Filppula will miss Thursday’s game against the Predators. Filppula suffered a nondisplaced fracture in his ankle on Feb. 6 and was expected to miss three weeks. But Filppula said after Thursday’s morning skate the ankle is not strong enough yet to get back into the lineup.

“I wish it was better, and it’s getting better but not good enough to play yet,’’ Filppula said. “Quick turns, stops, starts are OK, just getting moving again, the quick turns is the worst, and at speed it’s better, but in the game there are a lot of turns and stuff so it’s not there yet.’’

Filppula did not come on the ice at the start of the morning skate, but came out of the locker room later wearing a red jersey. For the time being Filppula is considered day-to-day, but said he can’t give any sort of a timetable on his return, though he hopes to be able to play at some point before the four-game road trip ends on Tuesday in St. Louis.

“It’s tough to say for sure,’’ Filppula said. “It just takes time, (the injury) is in a tough spot, really where everything moves, so you hope it’s only going to be a couple of weeks when it happened, but now it’s three weeks and I still can’t play, so it’s a little frustrating but hopefully it will start moving forward a little faster.’’

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said he expects that Filppula will play at some point on the road trip.

Familiar new face

D Mike Kostka participated in his second practice with Tampa Bay since the Lightning claimed the 28-year-old off waivers from Chicago on Sunday.

Though he is a new face to Tampa Bay, he’s in somewhat of a familiar setting having played under Cooper in Norfolk during the 2011-12 season when the Admirals won a Calder Cup championship with a handful of teammates who are now up with the Lightning.

“When you are put on waivers you don’t really know where you are going to end up, so if anything there is a familiar face, or a handful in this case with teammates I played with in Norfolk, has made the transition easier,’’ Kostka said.

Kostka appeared in only nine games with the Blackhawks this season, scoring two goals, while battling injuries. Cooper said Kostka adds depth to the defensive corps, and as a right-handed shot brings some balance.

“We’ve got to get him into a few practices with us to know the way we play, not that he doesn’t because he’s played for me and not a lot has changed,’’ Cooper said. “But as we told him he’s a depth defenseman for us, he’ll fill a role to help us win hockey games, he just needs to wait for his name to be called to get in.’’

Welcome back

With Filppula injured, rookie C Vladislav Namestnikov will play his second career NHL game after making his debut on Feb. 8 against Detroit. Namestnikov, the team’s first round pick in 2011, was called up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and will be reunited on a line with fellow rookies J.T. Brown and Nikita Kucherov, which made up the top line in Syracuse for the first month of the season.

Namestnikov played his first NHL game on the same line, logging 11 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time in a 4-2 victory against the Red Wings.

“The first period was tough (in the first game), but then I settled down, my nerves settled down and then it was easier,’’ Namestnikov said.

Nuts and Bolts

G Ben Bishop will start for Tampa Bay, he needs two victories to tie the franchise single-season record for wins by a goaltender. ... D Keith Aulie and Kostka are scheduled to be scratched.

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