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At the Rink: Devils at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning had a breakout performance Monday, defeating the road-weary Montreal Canadiens 7-1, but will be playing their fourth game in six nights Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, who arrive rested two days after a 5-1 victory against the Florida Panthers.

However, Lightning forward Ondrej Palat said the back-to-back games should not be a problem this early in the season.

"It's not really a problem for me; I like it," Palat said. "I feel like I am in shape and game ready. I feel pretty good in the back-to-back games."

Palat scored his first goal of the season Monday. The Lightning's top line of Palat, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan is beginning to jell.

"It was good to get that first goal in there," Palat said. "It's good for the confidence and our line scored a lot of goals [Monday]. [Stamkos] had the hat trick and [Callahan] had a nice goal too. It's great to play with those guys. They have a lot of experience."

Devils defenseman Andy Greene said it's important to limit the damage when it comes to playing the Lightning's top line.

"They are obviously a good offensive team," Greene said. "It's hard to completely stop Stamkos but you want to limit his opportunities and just try to contain him."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said that he won't try to strictly focus on Stamkos when it comes to matching lines but knows the Lightning captain always is a threat.

"Steven is the whole package," DeBoer said. "His speed is world class; he's almost faster with the puck than without it. He's one of the best players in the world."

Forward Patrik Elias said it's important not to get too caught up on Stamkos because there are several other Lightning players who can make a difference.

"Steven's been one of the best players since he's been in the League," Elias said. "But it's more than one guy. Palat is a great player. Callahan is a great player. They have a lot of depth up front. It should be a fun game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Martin Havlat - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus

Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Damon Severson

Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Cory Schneider

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Damien Brunner, Jacob Josefson, Adam Larsson

Injured: None


Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Tyler Johnson

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Nikita Kucherov - Vladislav Namestnikov - J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matthew Carle - Eric Brewer

Jason Garrison - Radko Gudas

Evgeni Nabokov

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Andrej Sustr

Injured: Jonathan Drouin (wrist)

Status report: Each team had optional skates Tuesday morning but most of the Devils lineup participated … Nabokov will get his first start this season for the Lightning … Namestnikov scored his first NHL goal and had an assist Monday. He said that his uncle, former Detroit Red Wings forward Slava Kozlov, was among those who sent him congratulatory messages.

Who's hot: Hedman's seven points (three goals, four assists) lead the NHL. Five of his points have come on the power play. ... Stamkos had his eighth-career hat trick Monday, tying him with Martin St. Louis for the franchise record. ... Cammalleri has three goals in the Devils' first two games. … Ryder has a team-high four points (one goal, three assists) and a plus-3 rating.

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