Gleason getting better

Cane's injuries on the mend

Staff WriterDecember 18, 2009 

— Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason was back practicing with the team at the RecZone on Thursday after missing two practices and a game earlier this week.

In last Friday's 4-3 overtime loss, Gleason was knocked out when he took a puck to the face on a shot from Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

It was the second time this season that Ovechkin has sidelined Gleason, but just like the kneeing incident last month that got Ovechkin suspended for a pair of games, Gleason returned to the contest. Wearing 30 stitches to the right of his eye and an oversized visor, Gleason tied Friday's game in his return with a short-handed goal that led to the Hurricanes earning a point.

"I don't know, but strike three he's out," Gleason joked, asked what it was with him and Ovechkin. "I'll have to find a way whether I shoot the puck at him or, no, I'm sure he felt a little bit bad, I would think or hope."

Gleason didn't miss Saturday's contest at the Ottawa Senators, either, but it all caught up with him on Sunday, when he had the day off.

"I probably should have taken it lightly on Saturday," Gleason said. "I just kind of went with it. I didn't feel like I was all there on Saturday, but I thought I was good enough. ... I think Sunday it did hit me."

Gleason missed Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars, and Carolina coach Paul Maurice said Gleason and defenseman Niclas Wallin will miss today's game at the Florida Panthers but should both be ready for Saturday's game in Raleigh, also against Florida.

"This was a good skate," Gleason said. "I feel all right. We'll see how tomorrow goes."

Gleason apparently first got his stick on Ovechkin's shot.

"You just wish you could think twice about it, not put your stick out there," he said. "It's amazing how many pucks deflect other ways and not in the face."

"I must have played it perfectly," he joked.

Gleason, who doesn't wear a visor, didn't sound like he wanted to start wearing one now.

"My mother would dream of that," Gleason said. "It's difficult to get used to that. ... I guess you get used to seeing clearly and when you have nothing on your face you can see clearly."

Back to back: The Hurricanes were on a plane bound for Sunrise, Fla., after practice to play the first of back-to-back, away-and-home games against the Panthers.

The Hurricanes will be more rested for Saturday's game than they were last weekend. This time they will be playing their third game in seven days. Last week's four-game road swing had them playing four times in six days. On top of that, their opponent in the second game of back-to-back games this season has often been rested.

"[On four of six], the other team's been waiting," Maurice said. "I think that's a big advantage."

It's easier to game-plan for the same team, too, Maurice said.

"You can prepare for one team and make adjustments based on one team," he said. "You're not seeing two different neutral zones. ... At least on back-to-back [against the same team], everything is even."

javier.serna@newsobserver.com or 919-836-4953

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