The Tampa Bay Lightning were without their top scorer for Thursday night’s 5-3 home victory over the Detroit Red Wings, as Nikita Kucherov was a late scratch due to illness.
As a result, the Lightning played with only 19 total players in a key game as they battled to stay in the wild-card chase with seven games to play. Four other key players — centers Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette and defenseman Jason Garrison — remain out with injuries.
The 23-year-old Kucherov leads the Lightning with 38 goals and 42 assists.
The win over Detroit leaves the Lightning three points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild-card spot. Boston also won Thursday night, 2-0 over the Dallas Stars.
–The St. Louis Blues signed goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Fitzpatrick, who was selected in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft, has posted a 16-27-3 record with one shutout, a 3.46 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 49 games this season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
–The Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Tucker Poolman agreed to terms on a one-year, entry-level contract.
Poolman, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2013 NHL draft, collected seven goals, 23 assists and a plus-18 rating in 38 games during his junior season with North Dakota. The 23-year-old was selected the All-National College Hockey Conference First Team and All-NCHC Tournament Team.
–The Columbus Blue Jackets assigned defenseman Gabriel Carlsson to Cleveland of the American Hockey League.
Carlsson, who was the 29th overall pick of the 2015 NHL draft, recorded two goals, two assists and a plus-8 rating in 40 games with Linkoping HC in the Swedish Hockey League. The 20-year-old Swede has scored three goals and set up 12 others in 92 career contests with Linkoping HC.
–The Buffalo Sabres signed forward C.J. Smith to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Smith is expected to play in the final five games for the Sabres (32-33-12), who return to action Sunday against the visiting New York Islanders. Smith collected 23 goals and 28 assists during the regular season with UMass Lowell and four of each in five games en route to being named the Hockey East Tournament MVP.