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Lightning put Steven Stamkos on long-term IR with lower-body injury

The Tampa Bay Lightning have placed center Steven Stamkos on long-term injured reserve with a lower-body injury, the team announced Thursday.

Stamkos has 34 points in 38 games this season, with 17 goals and 17 assists.

Stamkos last played against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 8, leaving in the third period after one shift. He will be due to come off LTIR on May 2, when the Lightning play at the Detroit Red Wings.

Coach Jon Cooper said Thursday he didn't expect Stamkos to play "for the rest of the week." The Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime Thursday. Tampa Bay kept pace with the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Central Division. Both teams have 60 points, although Carolina has a game in hand.

At the time of Stamkos's injury, Cooper wouldn't say if it was connected to a core muscle issue that forced the team captain to miss all but one game of Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup championship run last summer.

Stamkos joins former NHL MVP Nikita Kucherov on long-term injured reserve. Kucherov has missed the entire regular season after hip surgery. Kucherov has resumed practicing in a non-contact jersey, and the Lightning have said they don't expect him back until the playoffs.

Stamkos' $8.5 million cap hit will come off the books as he's on LTIR. Kucherov carries a $9.5 million cap hit. The Lightning currently do not have any open cap space.