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PRE-GAME REPORT: Devils vs. Lightning

Devils look to make it a perfect weekend against two of the NHL's top teams with a visit by Tampa Bay

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils get right back at it tonight with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center. 

You can watch the game on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

Read the game preview below and check back a few hours before the game for lineup updates, videos, our Pre-Game Report and more. 

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Devils news and notes from the past few days. 

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

NEWARK, NJ - A familiar face joined the Devils this morning when Cory Schneider was recalled from Binghamton (AHL).

The Devils will be going with Louis Domingue in goal against for the second straight night but interim head coach Alain Nasreddine talked about what the recall means for Schneider.

"He went down to find his game and put in a lot of work," he said. "You could tell by his last few starts that he's been doing a really good job." 

The other implication of the Schneider recall is that Mackenzie Blackwood remains on the shelf. Blackwood missed Saturday's game due to injury and Nasreddine reiterated that the injury to his starting goaltender was not of a serious nature.

"We're still working with the medical staff. It's not real serious."

JACK IS BACK

The team had two other significant lineup moves as Jack Hughes returns to the lineup after a five-game absence due to injury. That good news comes with some bad, however, as Kyle Palmieri will miss this one. 

"Jack will be back. Palmieri will be out tonight with a lower body. Nothing serious. Day-to-day. Jack will be back at center," Nasreddine said. 

Nasreddine talked about the shuffling the team will do with its lineup as a result. 

"We're going to move Brat to the right and slot Pav on the left. It's a luxury with Pav we can use him at center and on the wing," he noted. "We'll move Jack to center which allows us to put Pav on the top line."

With that noted, here are the lines: 

Zacha - Hischier - Bratt
Coleman - Zajac - Gusev
Wood - Hughes - Simmonds
Boqvist - Rooney - Hayden

Greene - Subban
Severson - Vatanen
Butcher - Carrick

Domingue
Schneider

Hughes talked about getting the chance to return. 

"It's only been five games but feels a lot longer than that. I'm happy to be back," said Hughes, adding that not playing and not travelling with the team seemed odd to him. 

"It's weird. Especially with them going on a few road trips and me just staying back, I didn't know what to do."

The Palmieri injury opened up the opportunity for Hughes to return. 

"They asked me if I'm good to play (with Palmieri out) and I said of course. I'm excited to play tonight."

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS TONIGHT

Nasreddine talked about what the team needs to do in order to succeed against the red-hot Lightning. 

"We've scored enough goals the last four or five games we just gave up too many until last night," he began, adding that the team's speed has resulted in its recent uplift in the standings. 

"You come in and want to change everything at once but it's impossible. I wanted to use our biggest strength, that's speed," he said. "Once we had that, if you're going to win in this League you have to play well defensively. When you don't have the puck, you've got to hunt that puck to try and get it back."

He added that the pairing of Will Butcher and Connor Carrick 

"Will's biggest strength is moving the puck. As for Carrick, I thought he had a great game. We asked him to keep it simple, threw a few hits, got in people's faces. He seized the opportunity and had a strong game."
"Tonight will be a lot of the same. We know they're stingy defensively."

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

PREVIEW

DEVILS (16-21-7) vs. LIGHTNING (27-13-4)

TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the second of three meetings between the two teams this season. 

Their only other meeting was a wild one, with the Lightning prevailing 7-6 in overtime in late October. Kyle Palmieri had a hat trick in that game while Jesper Bratt had two goals and Wayne Simmonds had three assists. 

Ondrej Palat had two goals and three points for the Lightning to lead them in scoring. Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson also each had three points with Johnson scoring the overtime winner. 

Devils team scope:

The Devils are coming off a huge 5-1 win over the top team in the NHL, the Washington Capitals. 

Over their last 13 games, they have a record of 7-4-2. Nico Hischier has seven goals in that time which ranks 14th in the NHL. 

Kyle Palmieri continues to lead the team in scoring with 31 points through 44 games but Hischier has moved within three points of Palmieri with 28 (12 goals, 16 assists). Hischier has only played 39 games this season and as a result has a higher points-per-game pace. 

Lightning team scope:

While the Capitals are the best team in the NHL, the Devils have another tough test tonight as the Lightning are the hottest team. After starting the season slowly, they're peaking now and have won 10 straight. 

Tampa Bay won 62 games last season, tying the Detroit Red Wings for the all-time NHL record. Prior to this stretch, they were 17-13-4 and out of the playoffs but now they've moved all the way to second in the Atlantic Division. 

Nikita Kucherov leads the Lightning in scoring with 49 points with Steve Stamkos second at 44 points and Brayden Point and Victor Hedman tied for third with 40.

By the Numbers:

It was a big win for the Devils on Saturday night, 5-1 over the Capitals. Over their last 13 games, they actually have a better record than the League-leading Caps with a record of 7-4-2 versus 7-6-0 for Washington. 

Last season at this time, Kucherov was leading the NHL with 72 points but this year while he's still leading the Lightning, the reigning NHL MVP has 23 less points. 

Injury Updates:

Devils - Jack Hughes (upper body) will play tonight; Mackenzie Blackwood (upper body) is day-to-day; Kyle Palmieri is day-to-day; Ben Street (lower body) is on IR

Lightning - Ryan McDonagh (upper body) is day-to-day; Ondrej Palat (lower body) is day-to-day

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

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