TAMPA - Who swiped Martin St. Louis' MVP ballot? Is it part of a conspiracy?
The Lightning wing said he never saw his ballot for the Pearson award, the league MVP honor as voted on by players.
"Somebody must have taken mine," St. Louis said of the ballots delivered last week. "It wasn't in my (locker) stall."
St. Louis, who has a league-high 91 points and 56 assists, is a prime candidate for the Hart Trophy, the MVP award given by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Some believe the Pearson more significant because it is given by the players.
St. Louis said a teammate must have taken his ballot because it is well-known St. Louis would not vote for himself.
"They're trying to help me, I guess," St. Louis said.
Asked why he would not vote for himself, St. Louis said, "It just doesn't feel right."
Teammate Cory Sarich said he wasn't surprised: "That's how Marty is, very down to earth."
Sarich said he could not say how many of his teammates voted for St. Louis.
"I know I did," he said.
SYDOR RETURNS: Darryl Sydor, who missed two games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, returned to the lineup. He said his injury is "nothing serious" and that he was held out mostly as a precaution.
TAYLOR-BONDRA: Lightning center Tim Taylor and Senators right wing Peter Bondra had a wrestling match along the boards with 8:50 left in the first. Coincidence?
Taylor was quoted in Monday's Times as saying Bondra was a "selfish player," though he said the comments were taken out of context.
"I said, "Outside player looking in, I don't know if he would have fit in with us,"' Taylor said. "He fits in great with them."
"I couldn't care less about it," Bondra said. "I don't know who Tim Taylor is, so I'm not really sure what to say about it. He's still an NHL player? I'm not sure. ... Honestly, who is he?"
Bondra got two minutes for roughing, Taylor two for holding.
ODDS AND ENDS: Coach John Tortorella said center Eric Perrin, who has played two games since his callup from Hershey, Pa., could earn a roster spot for the playoffs. The coach said he has been unhappy with the fourth line and Perrin could get into the mix if he plays well. ... Defensemen Darren Rumble and Nolan Pratt and wing Andre Roy (inner ear infection) were scratched. ... Defenseman Brad Lukowich received 27 stitches above his left eye after he was run into the boards by Ottawa's Chris Neil with 3:58 left in the second period.