BOSTON -- With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be without three key players due to injury as they fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn will be out four to six weeks with a lower-body injury, forward Ondrej Palat will miss two to three weeks with a lower-body injury and forward Cedric Paquette will be sidelined 10 to 14 days with an upper-body injury.
"This is a blow -- no question," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "I guess we've hit a little adversity here, but this is a chance for other guys, and they're going to get more minutes now. They've got to step up and take the spot of some guys that are impact players with us."
The Lightning acquired Coburn at the trade deadline from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Radko Gudas and a first- and third-round pick in 2015. Tampa expects Coburn to be back in time for the playoffs.
"I really feel for Coburn," Cooper said. "We trade for him, and he was really fitting in well for us; you could just see that it was coming. It was a seamless transition into our scheme, and for him to go down, I know he's crushed, but the positive thing is it's not season-ending.
"The other two kids are flat-out gamers for us. The tough thing for us is all three of those players find their way onto the ice in the last minute of a game, whether you're up or down."
Tampa recalled Mike Angelidis from Syracuse of the AHL. Also, J.T. Brown returned to the lineup in Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins after missing three games with an upper-body injury.
The Lightning now have 91 points and are tied with the Canadiens and New York Rangers atop the Eastern Conference.
"But I don't know if we're sitting here with 90 points unless we've got depth," Cooper said before Thursday's game. "I think we'll be OK. We've lost part of our core, but we've got guys here lined up to take their spot, so it should be a challenge."