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At the Rink blog

Oilers' Hall ready to return against Lightning

Thursday, 11.07.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

TAMPA -- Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall will make his return to the lineup Thursday when the team visits the Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Hall, out since Oct. 22 with a knee injury, has been cleared to play by the Edmonton medical staff.

"When they told me I'd be out four weeks you always think you can get back a little sooner," Hall said. "You never know what is going to happen with that process but I had a feeling I'd be back sooner than that. You never know how you're going to come back from an injury but I feel good enough to play, so it's time to play."

Hall said he'll be wearing a knee brace for the remainder of the season.

"It's fine," he said. "It's a little clunky but it feels good on my knee."

The addition of Hall to the lineup was welcome news to Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins.

"That gives us some more depth up front," Eakins said. "The thing I like about Hall early is that he is always in the fight. He competes hard and he wants to be the best player on the ice so there has been a number of nights where the players on the bench and the guys behind the bench were looking for No. 4 but he wasn't available to us."

Hall will skate on a line with Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov.

The Lightning, meanwhile, look to continue their dominance of the Western Conference as they complete a two-game homestand.

This will be the second consecutive opponent from the West for Tampa Bay; they beat the St. Louis Blues on Saturday to improve to 5-0-0 against the West.

"We look at the Western Conference, it's like getting that extra piece of candy on Halloween," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You want it. You're full but you still want it because it tastes so good."

The Oilers, however, could be a difficult piece of candy for the Lightning to swallow, considering that all four of their wins have come against the Eastern Conference and they'll be bolstered by the return of Hall.

Here are how the lineups could look for the Oilers and Lightning:

OILERS

Jordan Eberle - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky

Taylor Hall- Sam Gagner - Nail Yakupov

Ryan Jones - Boyd Gordon - Mark Arcobello

Luke Gazdic - Ryan Smyth - Linus Omark

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Taylor Fedun

Ladislav Smid - Philip Larsen

Devan Dubnyk

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: Ryan Hamilton, Will Acton, Ben Eager

Injured: Justin Schultz (groin), David Perron (neck), Jesse Joensuu (back), Steve MacIntyre (knee)

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis

Teddy Purcell - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Malone

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Brett Connolly

B.J. Crombeen - Nate Thompson - Richard Panik

Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Eric Brewer - Mark Barberio

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Andrej Sustr,

Injured: Tom Pyatt (collarbone)

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery