Brandon Sutter rarely misses a Canes practice but he did today, causing some to wonder if he had been injured Saturday.
Sutter, driving the net in overtime, did a somersault over Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon trying to avoid contact as he was pushed from behind by the Bolts' Steven Stamkos. Sutter, who was called for a roughing penalty, was fortunate he didn't land on his head.
But Sutter is fine, Canes coach Kirk Muller said today, and just taking a "maintenance day." The center is good to go for tomorrow's road game against the Washington Capitals.
Patrick Dwyer also is ready to jump back into the lineup, Muller said. Dwyer has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury but the winger will rejoin Sutter's line along with Andreas Nodl.
"It solidifies our third line," Muller said. "It's a big part of our game because we use him against the top players. It allows guys to get back in position where they belong.
"He complements Sutter. He's a good skater, a good checker. We miss him. It will be a good addition having him back in the lineup."
Forward Drayson Bowman was out of today's practice and could miss the Caps game, Muller said. Bowman has a cold or sinus infection, which could keep him from making the two-game trip to Washington and Buffalo.
The lines today had Eric Staal centering Anthony Stewart and Jiri Tlusty, Jussi Jokinen with Jeff Skinner and Chad LaRose, and Tim Brent with Derek Joslin and Jerome Samson.
Joslin had just two shifts against the Lightning but Muller said it was not because of his play.
"It was a three-line type game," Muller said. "Their top guys played a lot of minutes. I figured early on we were going to have to shorten the bench and match up with those guys. ... He's been playing well. I just didn't think the right matchups were there."
The Canes, after a six-game homestand, have two-back-to-backs coming up -- Caps-Sabres, then Tampa Bay and Florida -- as they play their next five games on the road. The Canes will return to Raleigh after the Sabres game and have two home practices scheduled before leaving for Tampa.
"This is like our playoffs," Muller said. "This is going to tell us a lot about our guys, which ones can raise their game in these big games, who's excited to play in them, who's doing their roles well. This is a good measuring stick for us."
The scheduling may also allow Brian Boucher to get back in net for the first time since Dec. 3. The goaltender suffered a groin injury Dec. 5.
"I think he still needs a few more practices," Muller said. "But we have a really tough month of March and it makes sense with the back-to-back it would be the ideal time to get him into his first game back. But we really are day-to-day in just judging the makeup of the game and who goes in and all that. But we will need him going into this stretch in March."