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At the Rink: Flyers at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube is not interested in talking about goalie platoons or deciding if Ray Emery or Steve Mason is the team's designated starter.

He's going to make the decision game-by-game and leave the speculation to others.

"I'm just trying to put out the best lineup to get the team a victory," Berube said. "Whether that means starting Emery or Mason, it's just about winning the game."

Emery is 4-0-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .924 save percentage this season and has won his past three starts. The 32-year-old had 38 saves in 3-2 overtime victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. He'll make a fourth consecutive start Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

"Right now Ray is playing extremely well so it makes sense to keep him back there," Berube said. "And that's how we're going to look at this. I know Mason wants to get back in the lineup and there's going to be a chance for him. [Thursday] we are focused on the Lightning. They are a very good team, and regardless of who's in net we know we need to be disciplined and deal with the pressure they bring."

Berube wouldn't commit to Mason starting Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning are coming off of a strong effort Tuesday in a 7-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes in their first game home after a five-game road trip.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he expects a much tighter contest Thursday.

"This should be a really good challenge. They are a playoff team from last year," Cooper said. "They are a very dynamic team up front and they can send waves of talent with [Jakub] Voracek and Wayne [Simmonds]."

Cooper credits much of the Lightning's early success to fast starts, especially scoring goals in the first period and carrying the lead into the third period.

"Getting the lead in this League is important, especially on home ice because it forces teams to open up and take some chances," Cooper said. "Whenever you can force a team out of their structure it becomes an advantage. I like the way we play on home ice and our crowd gets energized when we come out playing fast."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Jason Akeson

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Nick Schultz

Brandon Manning - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Blair Jones, Shayne Gostisbehere

Injured: Vincent Lecavalier (lower body), Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Braydon Coburn (lower body), Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (chest)


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Jonathan Drouin - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

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), Ryan Callahan (lower body)

Status Report: Cooper said Callahan likely will return to the lineup Saturday. … The Flyers called up Manning on Wednesday; he is replacing Gostisbehere in the lineup. … Lecavalier had expressed a desire to return to the ice Thursday but the former Lightning captain will not play. … Cooper said he would like to split Stamkos and Filppula again when some players return from injury.

Who's Hot: Kucherov has four goals in his past two games, including his first NHL hat trick Tuesday against Arizona. … Emery has stopped 95 of 102 in his past three starts. … Johnson had a career-high four assists Tuesday and has 11 assists in his past seven games. … Voracek enters play Thursday tied for third in the NHL with 13 points.

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