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At the Rink: Flames at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Fresh off four days of rest, the Tampa Bay Lightning will aim for a perfect homestand Thursday night against the Calgary Flames

The Lightning (8-3-1) have defeated the Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals in the first three games of their four-game homestand. Meanwhile the Flames (8-4-2) will be coming into Amalie Arena on a three-game win streak of their own with victories against the Nashville Predators, Montreal Canadiens and an overtime win against the Capitals on Tuesday.

"There's a saying, rest is a weapon," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "And hopefully it's a good one for us."

During the first 12 games of the season the Lightning have been forced to use several different lineups due to injuries. The four days off will mean the likely return of defenseman Andrej Sustr on Thursday while forward Alex Killorn will miss some time with an upper-body injury he sustained Saturday against the Capitals.

Despite the injuries and lineup changes, the Lightning have skated well and their efforts have been rewarded with wins. However, Cooper said the rest was something he welcomed even if it halted some of their momentum.

"If you gave me a choice, even though we've won a couple of a row, I would take the time off," Cooper said. "It's early so I'm not saying we're a tired team, but in the last game you could see some mental fatigue, and for us to keep playing at a high level the rest is good."

The rest gave the Lightning plenty of time to prepare for the Flames, who will arguably be the toughest challenge of the homestand.

The Flames have a 6-2-0 road record this season and have won their past three road games.

"They don't care if they are on the road or at home, they give 100 percent regardless," Cooper said. "They are probably as well structured a team as I've seen. As a collective group they are very difficult to contain."

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said that the rest not only gave the team a chance to heal, but they also worked on tightening some things up on the ice.

"We got a little sloppy our last time out there and we know this is a hot team that will get after it on the road," Bishop said. "It's been a good homestand so far and if we win tonight it will be a great homestand. However, we know we can't come out lackadaisical and make a lot of mistakes with the puck."

Here are the projected lineups:


Curtis GlencrossSean MonahanJosh Jooris

Lance BoumaMarkus GranlundJiri Hudler

Sven BaertschiPaul ByronDevin Setoguchi

Brandon BolligDavid JonesBrian McGrattan

Mark GiordanoTJ Brodie

Kris RussellDennis Wideman

Raphael DiazDeryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Ladislav Smid

Injured: Johnny Gaudreau (illness), Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Matt Stajan (knee), Mason Raymond (shoulder), Michael Ferland (concussion)


Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Jonathan Drouin - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette

Matthew Carle - Anton Stralman

Andrej Sustr - Eric Brewer

Jason Garrison - Radko Gudas

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Victor Hedman (hand), Brett Connolly (lower body), Alex Killorn (upper body)

Status report: The Lightning called up Paquette from Syracuse to replace the injured Killorn. … Jooris and Jones will switch lines for the start of the game Thursday. … Sustr (hand) is likely to return after missing the game Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

Who's hot: Johnson had two assists in the 4-3 win against the Capitals on Saturday, and his 13 assists is tied for first in the NHL. … Giordano had a goal and an assist in the 4-3 overtime victory against the Capitals on Tuesday.

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