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Blue Jackets' Saad to face Lightning

Forward back in Columbus lineup after missing three games with injury

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad will return to the lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (3 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-O, NHL.TV). Saad, who is tied for the Blue Jackets lead with 24 goals and tied for third in scoring with 41 points, missed the past three games with an undisclosed injury. His 24 goals are a career high in his first season in Columbus. He had a career-high 52 points last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I use him in all situations," coach John Tortorella said. "When you bring a guy who can skate like that into the lineup it makes everyone quicker.

"You look though my eyes when you're on the bench and I don't have him, it's only a coach's feeling. I missed him only because he's involved in so many things."

Tortorella expects a faster game against the Lightning than the one against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, so the timing of Saad's return is perfect.

"I believe we're going to have to play with more pace than we did the other night and he'll help us there," Tortorella said.

Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will make his second straight start since returning from a groin injury. He made 28 saves in the 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Friday.

However, right wing David Clarkson is out with an undisclosed injury that occurred Friday. 

The Lightning will be without center Cedric Paquette after he sustained a lower-body injury in a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. He has five goals and nine points in 44 games.

Former Blue Jackets forward Mike Blunden was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League and will play for Paquette.

"The one thing with Blunden is when he came up before, he impressed," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He's got size. He's got speed. He fills a roll that [Paquette] had. He earned a spot up here."

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