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At the Rink: Wild at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning return to Amalie Arena hoping home ice will get them back on track Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

The Lightning (13-6-2) lost to the New York Islanders on Tuesday and Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday by matching scores of 5-2. Tampa Bay has lost four of its past six games and assistant coach Rick Bowness spoke of a team that is trying to find a spark.

"This is our ninth game in 15 days and we're trying to use our depth and find some fresh legs," Bowness said. "If you've got fresh legs and you're going through the stretch we're going through, you're crazy not to use them."

Lightning wing Cedric Paquette returns to the lineup after taking a puck off his foot Tuesday against the Islanders and sitting out the Maple Leafs game. He will take the place of Vladislav Namestnikov, and defenseman Mark Barberio will play in place of Eric Brewer. Barberio is in the lineup for the third time in the past four games after sitting 15 of the first 18 games this season.

"[Barberio] has shown that he can get ready when his number is called," Bowness said. "He has a great attitude, he's a true professional. He understands where he is in the rotation and he works very hard in practice."

The Lightning are continuing to struggle on the defensive end and defenseman Anton Stralman says those lapses have to stop.

"I wasn't happy with my game against the Islanders," Stralman said. "I burned a lot of steam in the Rangers game. I thought the Toronto game was better, but we still have stuff to improve on."

The Wild (11-7-0) beat the Lightning 7-2 when the two teams played on Oct. 25. Minnesota has won four straight games, including a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu took part of the morning skate after being listed as questionable and Wild coach Mike Yeo says he will play.

"We're going to need him tonight," Yeo said. "These guys are going to come out skating hard tonight and I expect a tough game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Justin Fontaine

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Jason Zucker

Ryan Carter - Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak

Matt Dumba - Keith Ballard

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Nicklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel

Injured: Matt Cooke (lower body), Jonas Brodin (illness)


Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Jonathan Drouin - Cedric Paquette - Alex Killorn

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Matthew Carle - Anton Stralman

Andrej Sustr - Mark Barberio

Jason Garrison - Radko Gudas

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: Eric Brewer, J.T. Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: Victor Hedman (fractured finger)

Status report: The Lightning had 13 players participate in their optional skate. … Koivu was questionable, but will play tonight. Brodziak returns to the lineup in place of Bickel

Who's hot: Niederreiter has scored five goals in his past four games. … Killorn has scored goals in three straight games since returning to the lineup from a lower-body injury.

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