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At the Rink: Islanders at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Defenseman Thomas Hickey is likely to be in the lineup when the New York Islanders face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Hickey was activated off the injured reserve Saturday. He had been out with a lower-body injury since Oct. 24 and missed time earlier in the season with a broken hand.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Hickey was real close before their morning skate Friday. New York (11-8-4) lost in shootout 3-2 to the Florida Panthers on Friday and held an optional skate Saturday.

Tampa Bay (11-10-3) had its three-game win streak ended in a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday. Center Tyler Johnson left the game after his first shift with an undisclosed injury and is unlikely to play Saturday. Johnson has missed four out of the past five games.

Lightning forwards Cedric Paquette, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat have already been ruled out. Coach Jon Cooper said that Drouin is closest to returning and could play next week.

"We've kind of hit the injury bug here the last few weeks," Cooper said. "But we've got guys on the fence and close to coming back."

The Lightning struggled Friday and were outshot 31-14 through two periods before third-period goals by Brian Boyle and Victor Hedman. Cooper hopes Tampa Bay can build off of their third period Friday and put together a strong effort.

"I didn't get to see the Islanders game but it seems like they were in a similar situation and played really well in the second half of the game," Cooper said. "They were able to salvage a point, we weren't able to salvage a point but we played much better as the game went on."

Goalie Thomas Griess (5-3-2) is expected to make his 11th start for the Islanders. Goalie Ben Bishop will start for the Lightning after backup Andrei Vasilevskiy played Friday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body)

Scratched: Steve Bernier, Taylor Beck, Brian Strait, Adam Pelech


Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Joel Vermin - Jonathan Marchessault

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Luke Witkowski

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured; Ondrej Palat (ankle), Jonathan Drouin (undiscloded), Cedric Paquette (upper body), Tyler Johnson (undisclosed)

Scratched: Mike Angelidis

Status report: The Lightning did not have a morning skate and held a meeting instead. ...The Islanders recalled Berube from a conditioning stint in Bridgeport of the American Hockey League to place him on the injured reserve.

Who's hot: Strome scored Friday in his return to the Islanders after being sent to Bridgeport three weeks ago. ... Bishop is 4-0-1 in his past five starts.

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