Keith Aucoin gets his chance and is ready

Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes stick checks Keith

Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes stick checks Keith Aucoin behind the Carolina net in the third period of a game at Nassau Coliseum. (Feb. 24, 2013) (Credit: David Pokress)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Keith Aucoin's career has been marked by one consistency: Whenever he wasn't needed in an NHL lineup, he would go straight down to the AHL. But the 34-year-old center didn't go down to Bridgeport during a seven-game stretch in which he was a healthy scratch, and he appreciated the chance to stick around the Islanders despite not playing the last two weeks.

"I've been sent down plenty in my career, so it was good to be able to stay up even when I was out," Aucoin said Thursday morning before his return to the lineup against the Lightning. "I knew I'd get another chance just by being around here, so I did my skating and made sure I was ready for it."

After scoring four goals in his first seven games as an Islander, Aucoin had only one point in 12 games before Jack Capuano sat him down. If Aucoin sticks with the team through the entire season, it'll be his first full NHL season in 12 pro years. He's played in the United, East Coast and Central leagues in addition to 673 career AHL games.

"I'm here to produce, I know that," he said. "I have to get back to that when I'm out there."

He played 14:32 and got off two shots Thursday night.

Ullstrom injuredDavid Ullstrom had to be helped to the dressing room with 2:41 left in the third with a lower-body injury. There was no word after the game on his condition.

Lightning loses Lecavalier

Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury, leaving a big hole in the Tampa Bay lineup. The Panthers, the Islanders' opponent Saturday, lost Kris Versteeg for the season with a torn ACL.

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