TAMPA, Fla. — It’s usually the players who get nicked up during games and are itching to get back in while getting repaired in the dressing room. Wednesday night late in Game 1, coach Jack Capuano needed medical attention before racing back behind the bench to see his team pull out a 5-3 win.
Capuano took a deflected puck off his nose with just over 10 minutes to go in the third period and headed straight to the Isles room, where he remained while assistant Doug Weight ran the bench and the Lightning continued its rally from three goals down.
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“A little bit of a headache right now,” Capuano said after the game. “I’ve been hit more times (behind the bench) than when I played. It caught the tip of my nose, fortunately it wasn’t anything more serious.”
Capuano said he heard the goal horn go off when the Lightning pulled to within 4-3 with 2:32 to play and he returned to the bench right after. He didn’t see the puck, which was a Tampa dump-in that banked right off Ryan Strome’s shin pad and directly into Capuano’s face.
“You’re just concerned because he went down so hard,” Travis Hamonic said. “We’re glad he was OK. He’s battling.”
Capuano missed the end of a regular-season game during the 2012-13 season after taking a puck to the face behind the Islanders bench, needing five stitches above his right eye for that one.
The Islanders were already under siege by the Lightning when Capuano left the bench, so his absence didn’t cause any panic. Assistant coach Bob Corkum, who usually sits in the press box and relays information to the bench via walkie talkie, raced down to join Weight and Greg Cronin.
“We obviously would prefer him back there,” Hamonic said, “but we all have to keep playing.”