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Lightning aim to extend home streak; Elliott starts for Blues

St. Louis has won its past five games against Tampa Bay

by Corey Long / Correspondent

BLUES (31-17-9) at LIGHTNING (30-20-4) 

TV: 6 p.m. EST; FS-MW, SUN, NHL.TV 

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning put their nine-game home win streak on the line against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

"We've been finding different ways to win," forward Alex Killorn said. "You want to be a great team at home and be able to rely on winning games at home. In the recent past we've done that." 

Tampa Bay, currently fourth in the Atlantic Division, is 18-8-2 at Amalie Arena this season. 

The Blues come into the game on the heels of a 5-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Friday. St. Louis has won its past five games against Tampa Bay, including a 2-0 victory on Oct. 27. 

Coach Ken Hitchcock said the Lightning are playing much better hockey than they were during the first meeting. Tampa Bay is 7-3-0 in its past 10 games. 

"[The Lightning] are on top of their game right now," Hitchcock said. "They went through the disappointment at the end [of the Stanley Cup Finals]. It takes a lot to put the shoes back on and start climbing the mountain. They figured out how to do it. They'll be a threat for everybody until the end of the year." 

Killorn said the Blues' style of play has often frustrated the Lightning's offensive players. 

"They don't give up a lot of chances," Killorn said. "They play a style that forces you to be patient. And we've got to be patient because they don't give up too many scoring chances." 

Defenseman Andrej Sustr said the Blues' size is another obstacle the Lightning need to adjust to. 

"They are a big, heavy Western Conference team," Sustr said. "We know what to expect from them. They are going to be physical and try to wear you down." 

Brian Elliott will start for St. Louis. Ben Bishop will make his 42nd start of the season for the Lightning. 

Here are the projected lineups: 


Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes  

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko  

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer  

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves  

Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk  

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko  

Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo  

Brian Elliott 

Pheonix Copley  

Injured: Jake Allen (lower body), Alex Pietrangelo (knee injury), Steve Ott (hamstring) 

Scratched: Peter Harrold, Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi  


Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos  

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov  

J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan  

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra  

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman  

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr 

Nikita Nesterov - Matthew Carle  

Ben Bishop 

Kristers Gudlevskis 

Injured: Jason Garrison (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand surgery) 

Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault, Slater Koekkoek 

Status report: The Blues are 4-0-0 over the past two seasons with their fathers accompanying them on the road. "Everyone's happy to have the dads here," forward Robby Fabbri said. "Everyone's in a good mood and you can see it in our game. ... Namestnikov missed practice Saturday with the flu but participated in the team's optional skate. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Namestnikov is likely to play Sunday. "It's another 24-hour thing," Cooper said. "We've been lucky these have hit us on off-days and practice days." ... Allen spent much of the Blues morning skate stretching. ... Marchessault, who changed his number from 42 to 81, is likely to be a healthy scratch for the eighth time in the past 10 games. 

Who's hot: Brown has four goals in his past seven games. ... Backes and Taresenko each had a goal and an assist against the Panthers on Friday.

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