TAMPA — A day after Tampa Bay D Mike Kostka suffered a blow to the head following an elbow delivered by Montreal D Douglas Murray, Lightning officials said Kostka will be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a concussion.
Murray, meanwhile, will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety today. The hearing reportedly will take place at 11 a.m. via phone, which means any suspension is likely to be less than six games.
Kostka was walking around the locker room Wednesday morning and is schedule to speak to the media today regarding the incident.
But a day after the hit that knocked Kostka unconscious on the ice, his teammates were left wondering why Murray had to step up and raise his elbow while delivering a blow flush to the chin of Kostka.
“I know that Murray is not known as a dirty player, but I think we can all agree that was a pretty dirty hit, kind of one of the worst that I’ve seen live,’’ Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “I don’t think he’s a head-hunter player, he plays hard, but I’m not going to call him a dirty player. He’s a clean, honest player, but that particular play was dirty. It’s a flying elbow right to the jaw, and the guy is knocked out on the ice. I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that, if they’ve seen the replay and the multiple angles of the replay, that that was a dirty play.
“But we’ll let the league do its thing, but we just don’t want to see that in our game.’’
The story line will be brought up again, as the teams will most likely meet in the opening round of the playoffs when the postseason begins on April 16.
“It was a pretty obvious elbow to the head, so it was not fun to see,’’ D Victor Hedman said. “It was good to see (Kostka) get up, and I talked to him after the game, and he was not great, but he looked good and hopefully he’s not out for too long.’’
With Kostka out indefinitely, the Lightning will fill his spot in the lineup for the time being with either Mark Barberio or Keith Aulie, though Tampa Bay is expected to make call-ups from Syracuse soon.
Tampa Bay rookie C Tyler Johnson registered his fifth short-handed goal of the season on Wednesday against Montreal, a feat that put his name in the NHL record book.
With the five short-handed goals and five power-play goals, according to Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson became the second rookie in NHL history to record at least five short-handed goals and five power-play goals in a season since Dennis Maruk accomplished the feat with the California Golden Seals in 1975-76.
“That’s an honor I didn’t realize,’’ Johnson said. “That’s pretty cool, but obviously the bigger deal was to get the win and clinch that playoff spot, and hopefully we can continue with it and get better.’’
Nuts and Bolts
After reviewing the play on Johnson’s game-winning goal from Tuesday, the league awarded an assist to Hedman, which gives him a league-leading six short-handed assists, and he is tied for the league lead in short-handed points, also with six, with New Jersey’s Patrik Elias and Johnson. ... Tonight is the 14th annual Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night, with more than 2,000 cancer survivors and care-givers in attendance with tickets provided by the Steve Yerrid Foundation and the Lightning Foundation. Fans can pick up a special Tampa Bay Fights Cancer yellow bracelet behind Section 128.