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At the Rink: Kings at Lightning

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson could return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Kings at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-W).

Johnson has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury but says he feels refreshed and ready to play but will let the team doctors have the last word. He took part in the team's optional morning skate Wednesday and was a full participant in practice Tuesday.

"It's always hard to miss games," Johnson said "Watching the team battle like they have lights a fire under everyone. I want to be part of that."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper says there's a chance Johnson will play and the team will be happy to have him back.

"I hope he plays [Wednesday]," Cooper said. "We're a better team with [Johnson] on the ice. He's playing this week at some point."

The Lightning (10-9-3) have won their past two games to get back over the .500 mark. Cooper said execution will be key against the Kings.

"L.A. is just really structured," Cooper said. "They've won two [Stanley] Cups the way they've played and they don't really deviate and they haven't changed their team too much. They've given us trouble in the past just because of size and trying to penetrate in the middle of the ice against them."

Los Angeles (13-8-0) is at the final stop on a five-game road trip. The Kings are 2-2 during that stretch following a 3-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday.

"We've played good so far, penalties have hurt us a little bit in certain games," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Our power play and penalty kill have actually kept us in games."

Forward Milan Lucic said the Lightning will test the Kings defensively with their depth and speed.

"Lot of speed, lot of skill, lots of guy that can make plays," Lucic said. "Obviously they have one of the best goal scorers in (Steven) Stamkos. He does a really good job of doing his job but there's a great supporting cast there as well. Sometimes that gets overlooked but you don't make it to the [Stanley] Cup finals for no reason. So we've got to be on top of our game defensively."

Jonathan Quick will be in goal for the Kings. Ben Bishop will get the start for the Lightning.

Here are the projected lineups:


Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Marian Gaborik

Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Andy Andreoff - Nick Shore - Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (upper body), Dwight King (lower body)

Scratched:?????????Derek Forbort, Jordan Weal


Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Vladislav Namestnikov - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Jonathan Marchessault

Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Luke Witkowski

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Ondrej Palat (ankle), Cedric Paquette (lower body), Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed)

Scratched: Joel Vermin

Status report: Drouin and Paquette remain doubtful for Wednesday although Cooper wouldn't completely rule out either player. ...The Kings held an optional skate Tuesday and had full participation for morning skate Wednesday. ...Cooper has utilized an 11-forward, seven-defensemen lineup the past two games.

Who's hot: Toffoli scored his 11th goal of the season Tuesday against the Panthers. ...Kucherov had a goal and two assists in a 5-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

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