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At the Rink: Coyotes at Lightning

by Corey Long / NHL.com

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning start a four-game homestand Tuesday after finishing 3-2-0 on a five-game road trip that forced several lineup changes because of injuries.

Defenseman Victor Hedman broke his hand last week against the Vancouver Canucks and flew back to Florida early. Forwards Ryan Callahan, Brett Connolly, Alex Killorn and J.T. Brown also dealt with injuries that forced them to miss games.

"Luckily we have some depth and this is the time when you need it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Every team deals with injuries so this is something we like to think we prepared for."

Brown and Killorn are expected to return to the ice Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes. Killorn will likely join Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula on the top line.

"Alex brings a lot of speed, he can get to the net and make things happen," Cooper said. "That was probably the one thing we were missing in the last couple of games. Having that guy that can rush the net is a big part of what we do on offense."

It's unclear when Hedman can return to the lineup. He has already started the rehab process and will meet with the team doctor Thursday.

"He's going to tell me when I can get the cast off," Hedman said. "Once I get the cast off I'll be able to get back on the ice and do some conditioning work. Right now I'm doing what I can to speed up the recovery process. I saw what guys like [Stamkos] went through last season and I don't think my situation is as bad as his was."

Cooper said that although the Lightning's depth is strong it's always difficult to replace key pieces of the lineup.

"When you take a Ben Bishop or a Hedman out of the lineup it definitely leaves a void," Cooper said. "Guys like Victor are the guys that are on the ice for 24 minutes a night and those guys are always tough to replace. But this team knows how to handle the adversity and the other guys are eager to step up."

Callahan, who has missed the past three games, could return to the lineup Saturday. He spent extra time on the ice during the Lightning's morning skate Tuesday but declined to comment on his status.

"If it were up to [Callahan] he would skate [Tuesday]," Cooper said. "He's that type of player and that type of leader so he's itching to return."

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker

Sam Gagner - Martin Hanzal - Shane Doan

Brandon McMillan - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Chipchura - Martin Erat

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy

Keith Yandle - Michael Stone

David Schlemko - Zbynek Michalek

Mike Smith

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Chris Summers, Justin Hodgman

Injured: David Moss (upper body)

LIGHTNING

Alex KillornValtteri FilppulaSteven Stamkos

Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov

Jonathan DrouinVladislav NamestnikovCedric Paquette

Brenden MorrowBrian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Matthew CarleAnton Stralman

Andrej SustrEric Brewer

Jason GarrisonRadko Gudas

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Victor Hedman (hand), Brett Connolly (lower body), Ryan Callahan (lower body)

Status report: The Coyotes had an optional skate with Crombeen and McMillan among those who participated. …Hanzal is in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 18. …Callahan has been upgraded to day-to-day but Connolly was downgraded to week-to-week.

Who's hot: Johnson has assists in six consecutive games. … Yandle had two assists in the Coyotes' 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

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