Two back from injury; Kubina waits

Published April 4, 2006

TAMPA - Two of the Lightning's three injured players returned Monday night.

Defenseman Dan Boyle came back after missing three games with a right ankle sprain. Forward Fredrik Modin returned after being out three games with a groin strain.

But defenseman Pavel Kubina missed his third consecutive game with what is being called a "lower-body injury." He skated on his own Sunday, then with the team Monday morning. But he isn't sure when he will be back.

"Just go day to day and see," Kubina said. "I hope (to return) Thursday. I still got two days and I'm going to do my best to be ready for then."

THE REAL DISH: When forward Chris Dingman was sent down to minor-league Springfield in late December, most assumed it was the end of his Lightning career. Considering he passed through waivers, there was a good chance his NHL career was over.

Instead, being sent down might have been the best thing that could happen to the player known as "Dish."

"I just think I got a lot of confidence going down and playing a lot of minutes," Dingman, 29, said. "Down there I had a little more leeway to make plays and try things. I think I just got a better understanding of the game playing more."

Since being recalled March 10 he has played, arguably, his best hockey in a Lightning uniform, providing good defense and physical forechecking on the fourth line.

"I have so much more confidence with the puck," he said. "When I used to get it, I was so worried about getting it out of the (defensive) zone, I just got rid of it. Now I have a little confidence, a little more patience to make a play."

The same goes for the other end of the ice. He used to simply pin the puck against the boards. Now he looks to set up a teammate or work into scoring position.

"That's something I really focused on," Dingman said. "Even if it's just a soft shot at the net or a long slap shot. There could be a rebound, whatever. Now I'm looking to make something happen out there."

MISCELLANY: The team had two healthy scratches: forward Rob DiMaio and defenseman Doug O'Brien , who was returned to minor-league Springfield after the game. ... Modin, who scored in the first, came back on his usual line with Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis . Dmitry Afanasenkov , who played well in Modin's spot, started on a line with Ryan Craig and Tim Taylor .