Sore hip sidelines Gratton

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007

TAMPA -Chris Gratton said his hip injury is nothing more than wear and tear and is confident two weeks on the bench should be sufficient time to heal.

"It's part of the game," the center said of injuries, "but it is frustrating."

Injuries have been somewhat jolting for the Lightning this season.

The team has been without defenseman Dan Boyle (wrist) and center Ryan Craig (back, knee) for significant time and on Thursday lost right wing Michel Ouellet for four to six weeks with a separated left shoulder.

The 60 man games lost to injury are more than the 2005-06 season and the 2003-04 season and do not include the 33 games missed by center Tim Taylor (hip), who is on the nonroster injured list.

"We've been lucky the past three years," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "But injuries happen to every team. We have to battle through it."

NOTABLE GOAL: David Steckel's goal eight seconds into the second period that gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead was the fastest by an opponent to open a period in Tampa. It also was his second goal of the season and second of his 45-game career, both against the Lightning.

LINEUP CHANGES: Center Craig MacDonald returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for seven straight games and played 4:34 on six shifts. Minor-league call-up Blair Jones played nine seconds on one shift.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: Fans who watch Tampa Bay play the Flyers at 1 p.m. Dec. 29 at the St. Pete Times Forum can stay and watch Notre Dame face UMass and RPI play Colorado College in the Lightning College Hockey Classic.