Lightning defenseman Matt Carle will return to the Bolts lineup tonight for the first time since mid-January after missing 22 games. Lightning coach Jon Cooper confirmed the blueliner will be back against the Jets at 7 p.m. at Amalie Arena.
Carle underwent surgery on a torn abductor muscle on January 20.
“I’m excited about getting back, it’s been about two months since I played but I’m pretty sure things will be moving quick out there,” Carle said. “I’m just going to try and keep things simple.”
He’s expected to pair with Jason Garrison tonight on the blue line.
“It’s hard to say how its going to react or do in a game since I haven’t played in a game,” Carle said. “I’m very confident in the way I can play and everything I can do out there.”
Carle said returning in tonight’s game was the original plan since he started practicing with the team two weeks ago.
The Bolts play a Winnipeg Jets team tonight who has lost three of its previous four games and find itself one point out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
“The team we’re playing tonight is very desperate,” Cooper said.
The lines in morning skate were the same as they were at the completion of Thursday’s game with Vladislav Namestnikov joining Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson on the Triplets line. Jonathan Drouin, Brian Boyle were centered by Valterri Filppula and Mike Angelidis joined Brenden Morrow and J.T. Brown.
“I like the way we played and we’re given a chance to win every night,” Cooper said referring to how his team looked in the first game without Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette and Braydon Coburn.
“Namestnikov had some history with (Kucherov) because they played together in the minors and played together in the preseason so they have some history,” Cooper said. “(Drouin) has been in and out of that position all year with Boyle and has played well.”
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and is expected to get the start between the pipes.
Angelidis returns to Tampa
It’s been awhile since Lightning forward Mike Angelidis played at Amalie Arena. The Woodbridge, Ontario native has played in more than 600 AHL games but only eight NHL games.
Angelidis said he got the nerves out of the system in the first period against Boston on Thursday night and then played his game.
“It was great to get an opportunity,” Angelidis said. “Coming into my second game I know I feel a little more comfortable and happy to be here and excited.”
He scored his only NHL goal in his first game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012.
“I’m excited to see the fans and I know they’re great fans here in Tampa,” Angelidis said.