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At the Rink: Lightning at Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks are already without defenseman Sami Vatanen, and defenseman Hampus Lindholm might not be able to play Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Honda Center.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Lindholm is a game-time decision. Lindholm did not take part in an optional practice. He was seen walking through the locker room moments before media availability ended. Lindholm missed the Feb. 10 game with a lower-body injury.

Vatanen is out 4-6 weeks with a leg injury from last Sunday, when he went into the boards awkwardly. He leads the Ducks with seven power-play goals and formed a pairing with defenseman Clayton Stoner. Defenseman Josh Manson was recalled Tuesday, along with left wing Emerson Etem.

Manson, 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, acquitted himself well in an 18-game stint earlier this season. The Ducks went 11-3-4 with him in the lineup.

"You get that experience under your belt, and you know how fast the game is and how skilled the players are," Manson said. "So I'm not going in blind, but at the same time, I want to go in with that same mentality like it's my first game and I've got a lot to prove."

Etem, a local product from Long Beach, also was up with Anaheim earlier this season. He will try to help replace left wing Matt Beleskey, who is out 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury. Etem co-leads the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League with 13 goals. He was given Teemu Selanne's old locker, but he knows he's in a different role with Anaheim and needs to find consistency.

"I want to translate it up here as much as possible, whatever that means," Etem said. "I've definitely been working on stopping the circling and more straight lines, and finishing my checks down there, and that's leading to more offensive chances. I've just got to maybe not worry about offense first up here, but worry about the defensive side and maybe that will give me a lot more chances."

Manson and Etem need to help Anaheim's defense, which has allowed five or more goals in three of four games. Its penalty kill is 11-for-16 the past three games.

Asked if the physical element has been there, Boudreau said, "Sometimes it has. In the last nine games, it's been there a couple of games, and obviously missing in a few other games. It's consistency all over the ice. That's why you get into slumps. We've got to find our way back, and we will find our way back to where we were, and we'll be great again."

Tampa Bay is coming off a rare third-period letdown against the Los Angeles Kings, the second game of a back-to-back set to start a five-game trip. Fatigue has set in. The Lightning, Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks have played an NHL-leading 59 games. That's why Tampa Bay took Tuesday off.

"It's a grind," center Steven Stamkos said. "This is the time of the year where you're getting around that 60-game mark. It's been a long year. This is a tough trip for us. We definitely welcome that and hopefully regroup after a tough back-to-back against some pretty good teams."

Goalie Ben Bishop will start. He has been pulled in two of his previous four starts but is 3-0-1 with a 1.32 goals-against average against Anaheim.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was not available to the media at the morning skate.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex KillornSteven StamkosRyan Callahan

Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov

Cedric PaquetteValtteri FilppulaBrett Connolly

Jonathan DrouinBrian BoyleBrenden Morrow

Victor HedmanAndrej Sustr

Mark Barberio - Anton Stralman

Jason GarrisonNikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Luke Witkowski

Injured: Matt Carle (upper body), Radko Gudas (knee)


Patrick MaroonRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Rene BourqueRyan KeslerKyle Palmieri

Andrew CoglianoRickard RakellJakob Silfverberg

Devante Smith-PellyNate ThompsonEmerson Etem

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Clayton StonerFrancois Beauchemin

Eric Brewer - Josh Manson

John Gibson

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Tim Jackman

Injured: Sami Vatanen (leg), Matt Beleskey (shoulder), Frederik Andersen (neck), Hampus Lindholm (lower body)

Status report: Barberio will likely go back in for Witkowski. … Several players sat out, so the Ducks lines were unclear. … Andersen is eligible to come off injured reserve but will take more time to recover from a neck injury after the goal apparatus fell on him against Tampa Bay on Feb. 8.

Who's hot: Kucherov has seven points in seven games. Filppula has seven points in his past five games. … Beauchemin and Perry are each on a two-game point streak.

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