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At the Rink: Lightning at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell knows what to expect against center Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at Rexall Place on Friday (9 p.m. ET; SUN, SNW).

Purcell played five seasons with the Lightning alongside Stamkos before being traded to the Oilers on June 29, 2014.

"He's dangerous," Purcell said. "He'll be the first to admit he could not be playing his best game but he can get two shots on net and can score two goals. He's always a threat when he's on the ice. He has a lot of speed and they have a real good power play so we have to be disciplined and definitely have to be aware of him tonight."

Purcell, 30, is playing well on the Oilers' first line with left wing Taylor Hall and center Leon Draisaitl. He has nine goals and 25 points in 41 games, putting him on pace for his most productive season since 2011-12, when he had 24 goals and 65 points playing on Stamkos' line with the Lightning.

"I still have a lot of good friends there and it's fun to play against a team that you spent a good part of your career with," Purcell said. "But I got those games out of the way last year. They were a bit different and weird at first. But it's going to be like any other game tonight. It's nice to catch up with the guys but we want to keep this thing rolling."

The Oilers (17-21-3) are on a two-game win streak. They defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 on Monday in the fourth of a season-long, six-game homestand.

Edmonton is 5-1-1 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.

"They [Lightning] went to the Stanley Cup Final six months ago so they're that good," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "They have a group of forwards that have played together for a while, that line they call the 'Triplets' [Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson] that haven't been healthy and they haven't been together but they are now and are starting to find their game. And that presents problems with speed, quickness, skill. And obviously Stamkos, whether he's in the middle or on the wing, is dangerous in any of those spots in his ability to shoot the puck."

The Lightning (19-17-4) lost the first game of a four-game road trip 3-1 at the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. They did not have a morning skate Friday.

Tampa Bay and Edmonton split their two-game season series in 2014-2015, with each team winning 3-2 at home.

"We just talked about [the Oilers] in our meeting, they have skill, speed and if you give them space, you're in trouble." Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, prior to the game. "Even the game that we beat them in Tampa, we were drastically outplayed and our goaltending had to save us. If you look at those two lines that are rolling for them, it's as good as any two lines in the league, they have that much skill and speed. If we don't control our gaps and we let them run around, this will not be a happy press conference [after the game]."

Goaltender Ben Bishop is expected to get the start for Tampa Bay. Cam Talbot will make his fifth consecutive start in goal for Edmonton.

"It's going to be a tough test tonight," Purcell said. "I think we're going to see a real good team in Tampa. I don't think they were happy with their game in Calgary. We know they're going to respond so we have to be sharp early."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman

Jason Garrison - Braydon Coburn

Andrej Sustr - Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Joel Vermin (hand)

Scratched: Matthew Carle, Jonathan Marchessault


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski

Iiro Pakarinen - Anton Lander - Rob Klinkhammer

Andrej Sekera - Brandon Davidson

Darnell Nurse - Justin Schultz

Brad Hunt - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Connor McDavid (collarbone), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Oscar Klefbom (finger), Andrew Ference (undisclosed)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Mark Fayne

Status report: Pakarinen will return for the Oilers after missing the past three games because of a concussion. Pakarinen sustained the injury Dec. 29 during a 5-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings. … Forward Jujhar Khaira was returned to Bakersfield of the AHL on Thursday to make room for Pakarinen on the roster. … McDavid and Yakupov continue to practice with the Oilers but will not play against the Lightning. Neither McDavid nor Yakupov have a timetable on a possible return to the lineup.

Who's hot: Sekera scored the overtime goal against the Hurricanes on Monday. … Eberle has two goals and an assist in his past two games. … Stralman has one goal and four assists in his past four games. … Stamkos has three goals and two assists in his past five games.

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