As soon as Panthers goalie Tim Thomas felt a shooting pain in his left groin in the first period of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Flyers he knew that his critics would have a field day about his age and comeback after taking a year off. Although Thomas 39 had to leave the game at 7:31 of the first he said the groin "certainly wasn't worse this morning than before I went to bed'' and he doesn't believe the injury should sideline him for "too long.'' "I thought of that actually when it happened'' Thomas said Wednesday afternoon after he watched his teammates practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in preparation for Thursday's final leg of this season-opening four-game nine-day road trip. "But I can't control what people are going to say. My job is to get better as soon as possible and be available to the team for their use.'' Thomas who underwent hip surgery in the 2010 offseason before guiding the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title in 2011 in which he was named the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophy winner thought the last time he had a groin injury was 2006 or '07. "It's been so long since I had any muscle strain whatsoever that I couldn't believe it'' said Thomas who showed no signs of a limp. "I guess I started to think I wasn't human. I guess I'm human; having said that it's not too bad.'' Thomas who's 1-2 with a 5.05 goals-against-average after giving up two fluke goals Tuesday that were helped by crazy bounces off the extra-springy end boards in Wells Fargo Center didn't want to speculate how long he'd be out. But he's certainly a long shot for Friday's home opener against the Penguins. The Panthers decided not to place Thomas on injured reserve which would force him to sit out a week while opening up a roster spot. Instead they recalled veteran goalie Scott Clemmensen from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio and sent down second-year forward Drew Shore for more seasoning. Clemmensen 36 who underwent minor knee surgery before training camp opened made it to Tampa in time to practice. He had one rehabilitation start in San Antonio in which he made 24 of 25 saves in a 3-1 Rampage victory Saturday. "The issue was with the knee and how it feels but also just the overall game coming off the summer your conditioning level. I really feel I'm in a good place'' Clemmensen said. "It felt good to get the competitive juices flowing again; that's what you work for but most importantly the knee feels great.'' Panthers coach Kevin Dineen admitted that goalie Jacob Markstrom who was sterling in relief of Thomas with 25 saves to keep the Panthers close was always scheduled to start against the Lightning because of the back-to-back situation. "You can't have too much of a good thing'' Dineen said of his three goalies. "I have trust and belief in Clemmensen that he could give us a good solid performance at an NHL level. … The situation is fluid.''