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At the Rink: Canucks at Lightning

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- It will be strength on strength when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Vancouver Canucks at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

The Lightning (29-14-4) are 18-4-1 at home, tied with the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues for most wins on home ice this season.

Meanwhile the Canucks (26-15-3) are 15-7-2 on the road, tied with the New York Islanders for most road wins in the League.

Vancouver has won its past three games on the road and is receiving strong goaltending from Ryan Miller.

Miller had logged 200:45 minutes of ice time without giving up a goal until Florida Panthers center Brandon Pirri scored on him with 2:32 remaining in the game Monday. The Canucks defeated the Panthers 2-1.

"We're going to have to bring our best game [Tuesday]," Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said. "They have a goalie that is playing well, so we have to get a lot of traffic in front of the net and get him off his game."

The Lightning have won their past six games at Amalie Arena, including a 3-2 shootout win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had 40 saves in the game.

"We like where we are right now but we can't get comfortable because we have a tough schedule coming up," Bishop said. "We have to take things one game at a time and Vancouver is going to be one of toughest teams we've faced during this stretch."

Although the Lightning are continuing to pile up points in the standings they are also dealing with several injuries that continue to test their depth.

On Monday it was announced defenseman Matthew Carle will miss 6-8 weeks with an abdominal injury he suffered in a 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers last Thursday. The Lightning had already been without defenseman Radko Gudas, who is likely to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury.

Luke Witkowski, who was called up from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League last Friday, is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday. He will likely be paired with another recent call-up, Nikita Nesterov.

Witkowski had one goal, five assists and 75 penalty minutes in 36 games with the Crunch. He was a sixth-round draft pick of the Lightning in 2008. He played four years for Western Michigan University and his first full professional season with Syracuse in 2013-14.

"I think I can contribute, I'm a stay-at-home defenseman and I pride myself on helping out the goalie as much as possible," Witkowski said. "Hopefully I can do that against Vancouver. I'm kind of speechless at the moment because this day is finally here. There's never a guarantee you'll play in the NHL. I've been with this organization for seven years and they've liked me enough to hold on to me."

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel SedinHenrik SedinRadim Vrbata

Chris HigginsZack KassianAlexandre Burrows

Shawn MatthiasNick BoninoLinden Vey

Derek DorsettBo HorvatJannik Hansen

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa

Luca SbisaRyan Stanton

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Frank Corrado, Yannick Weber

Injured: Brad Richardson (lower body)


Alex KillornSteven StamkosJonathan Drouin

Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov

Cedric PaquetteValtteri FilppulaRyan Callahan

Brenden MorrowBrian BoyleBrett Connolly

Anton StralmanVictor Hedman

Nikita NesterovLuke Witkowski

Jason GarrisonAndrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Mark Barberio

Injured: Radko Gudas (knee surgery), Matthew Carle (abdominal surgery)

Status report: Each team had optional skates Tuesday. … Miller will start his fourth straight game after missing the previous three with the flu.

Who's hot: Miller has given up one goal in his past three games. … Callahan has scored a goal in three of his past four games.

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