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Lightning's Kucherov doubtful vs. Coyotes

Tampa Bay forward has lower-body injury: Arizona goalie Treutle could make first NHL start

by Corey Long / Correspondent

COYOTES (27-26-6) at LIGHTNING (33-22-4)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; FS-A, SUN, NHL.TV

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov practiced Tuesday at the morning skate but is unlikely to play against the Arizona Coyotes at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night.

Kucherov has a lower-body injury and Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he would be a game-time decision. If Kucherov is unable to play his spot on the Lightning's "Triplet" line with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, will be taken by Jonathan Marchessault.

Tampa Bay swept a back-to-back by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes Saturday and Sunday to move into second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind the Florida Panthers. After their game Tuesday, the Lightning start a four-game road trip Friday at the New Jersey Devils but the Devils are the only team they'll face outside the division.

"It's important to continue to play well and take care of home ice because there are a lot of teams still in the hunt," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "One bad stretch can put you out of the playoffs."

Cooper said the Lightning have to take advantage of the Coyotes playing one night after a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday. They did not have a morning skate Tuesday.

"That's a tough trip for them," Cooper said. "To play the top team in the League and then to travel late in the night to get here. It's different because we haven't seen these guys this year. They can score goals with [Max] Domi, [Shane] Doan and the young guys coming up. They have an elite defenseman in [Oliver] Ekman-Larsson. They have had some injuries in goal. But if you look at their playoff run they are clearly doing something right."

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will make his 15th start of the season for Tampa Bay.

Niklas Treutle, who was called up from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Feb. 16, could make his first NHL start Tuesday. Treutle made his NHL debut Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, making four saves on four shots in 10 minutes in relief of starter Louis Domingue.

Here are the projected lineups:

Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker  
Max Domi - Martin Hanzal - Anthony Duclair  
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan  
Kyle Chipchura - Tyler Gaudet - Viktor Tikhonov  

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy  
Kevin Connauton - Michael Stone  
Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek  

Niklas Treutle  
Louis Dominque

Injured: Boyd Gordon (upper body), Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone), Anders Lindback (lower body)
Scratched: Jarred Tinordi, Nicklas Grossman

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Jonathan Marchessault
J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Cedric Paquette
Erik Condra - Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
Matthew Carle - Nikita Nesterov

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Ben Bishop

Injured: Nikita Kucherov (lower body), Jason Garrison (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand)
Scratched: Matt Taormina

Status report: Defenseman Jason Garrison participated in the morning but Cooper ruled him out. … Ekman-Larsson will play in his 400th NHL game Tuesday. …Filppula will play in his 700th NHL game Tuesday. "I remember my first game," he said. "It was against Florida and I think I played a minute or a minute and a half. Things have gotten much better." …Taormina was recalled from Syracuse on Monday. Defenseman Slater Koekkoek was sent to the AHL.

Who's hot: The line of Killorn, Stamkos and Callahan has combined for six goals and five assists in the past three games. …Ekman-Larsson had an assist against Washington for his 200th NHL point.

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