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Aittokallio to make season debut in goal for Avalanche

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- On the heels of a win Friday against the Florida Panthers, the Colorado Avalanche had an optional skate before meeting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

One player who definitely wanted to get some rest was Sami Aittokallio. He will be making his first start of the season in goal against the Lightning.

Aittokallio was called up from the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters on Friday as insurance since Jean-Sebastien Giguere remains day-to-day with back spasms.

The game on Saturday will mark Aittokallio's second NHL start. He appeared against the L.A. Kings on April 11, 2013 and stopped 23 of 25 shots before leaving in the third period with leg cramps.

"We're not going to change our plan," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "Giguere was supposed to play for us tonight but we have three games in four nights and we just feel we want to give Varlamov a rest. We have a lot of confidence in Aittokallio. He had a really good training camp for us and I think it would be a good time for him to have his first start for us this year. He played really well in L.A. last year. It will be a good challenge for him.”

Also resting Saturday will be Alex Tanguay, who returned Friday from a knee injury which caused him to miss 36 games. He played 17:10 against the Florida Panthers and collected an assist.

"We wanted to use Tanguay for only one of the two (back-to-back) games," Roy said. "We were hoping to use him in Florida and then give him two days off before playing his next game. I thought that was the perfect scenario. That was our plan and we're going to stick to the plan."

Tampa Bay has made a change to its roster, sending forward Richard Panik to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL). Panik had appeared in 39 games and had two goals and nine assists but had been a healthy scratch for five of the previous eight Lightning games.

"We're pretty much getting back to healthy and he (Panik) hasn't played that many games lately and we need to get him games," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "This is by no means a permanent thing; this is more a situation of we have to get him some game time. We need to keep him going, because we are going to need him at some point. He's the one guy that can go down there and play. Instead of sitting in the stands here for the next week, why not go down there and play penalty kill, power play and five-on-five and kind of get your mojo back, so when he does come down here he is ready to play. That's the whole point of the development system."

Here are the projected lineups for Saturday:


Ryan O'Reilly -- Matt Duchene -- Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog -- Paul Stastny -- Nathan MacKinnon

Cody McLeod -- John Mitchell -- Maxime Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau -- Marc-Andre Cliche -- PA Parenteau

Erik Johnson -- Jan Hejda

Andre Benoit -- Ryan Wilson

Nick Holden -- Tyson Barrie

Sami Aittokallio

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Alex Tanguay, Nate Guenin

Injured: Cory Sarich (back), David Van Der Gulik (head)


Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Martin St. Louis

Teddy Purcell - Valtteri Filppula - Alex Killorn

J.T. Brown - Nate Thompson - Nikita Kucherov

B.J. Crombeen - Ryan Malone

Eric Brewer - Radko Gudas

Sami Salo - Victor Hedman

Matthew Carle - Mark Barberio

Keith Aulie

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jean-Philippe Cote, Tom Pyatt

Injured: Steven Stamkos (leg)

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