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At the Rink blog

Lightning ready for Rangers in second of back-to-back

Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 1:24 PM

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

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Lightning ready for Rangers in second of back-to-back

TAMPA -- When the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing 65 minutes of uneven hockey Saturday, the New York Rangers were relaxing in their hotel. It took a shootout to decide matters in the Lightning's 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

This might appear give the Rangers a huge advantage heading into the game Sunday against the Lightning, but appearances can be deceiving.

The Lightning are 4-0-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games this season and Tampa Bay is 14-3-2 at home, going unbeaten in regulation in its past six games at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"It might mean something or it might not," Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. "It depends on how we play. This League has a lot of travel and all, so players are used to it."

That would appear to be so, at least according to Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. He logged 23 minutes of ice time against the Canadiens but was ready for more Sunday.

"I feel pretty good," Gudas said. "I'm ready to go again. I just need about an hour nap."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn't think his team would show fatigue against the Rangers, but he acknowledged that some of his opinions have been off lately.

"I don't even want to start predicting, because I predicted last night [after the layoff] the teams would be fine and everybody stunk," Cooper said. "I said the goalies would be brutal and they were great. So, I don't even know how this is going to work out. We've been on the ice for three days. If these guys are fatigued we're doing something wrong. It should be OK."

Defenseman Conor Allen will make his NHL debut Sunday for the Rangers, filling in for injured Anton Stralman. Stralman sustained an undisclosed injury that forced him out of the Rangers' loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday. Although he was on the ice for the morning skate, New York coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Stralman would not play.

Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal for New York after backing up Cam Talbot for three games.

Here are projected lineups:

RANGERS

Chris KreiderDerek StepanRick Nash

Derick BrassardBrad RichardsMats Zuccarello

Carl HagelinJ.T. MillerBenoit Pouliot

Brian BoyleDominic MooreDerek Dorsett

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi

John MooreMichael Del Zotto

Justin FalkConor Allen

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Taylor Pyatt

Injured: Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, Ryan Callahan

LIGHTNING

Teddy PurcellValtteri FilppulaAlex Killorn

Martin St. LouisTyler JohnsonOndrej Palat

Richard PanikTom PyattNikita Kucherov

Nate ThompsonJ.T. Brown

Victor HedmanRadko Gudas

Matthew CarleMark Barberio

Jean-Philippe CoteAndrej Sustr

Dmitry Korobov

Anders Lindback

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Pierre-Cedric Labrie, B.J. Crombeen

Injured: Sami Salo (upper body), Eric Brewer (upper body) Ryan Malone (lower body)

Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals