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Preview: Flames at Lightning

Tampa Bay forward Jonathan Drouin game-time decision against Calgary because of illness

by Corey Long / Correspondent

FLAMES (30-26-4) at LIGHTNING (27-24-8)

7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, SNW, NHL.TV


Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames are 6-2-1 in their past nine games and hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets, with back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers to end a five-game road trip. Coach Glen Gulutzan said the five-day break the Flames had earlier this month should pay dividends at the end of the stretch. "I like where our energy is at with our group," Gulutzan said. "We're at the end of February and we've got a lot of juice. We don't seem like a tired team. But the other side of it is we've got to get fired up to play." Defenseman Michael Stone, acquired by the Flames in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, said these are the games that he's excited to play. "Should be a lot of fun [Thursday] with a big game for both teams," Stone said. "The more we can limit their offensive zone time the better for us." Goalie Brian Elliott will start. He's 6-2-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 10 games against the Lightning.


Lightning team scope

Forward Jonathan Drouin will not play because he is ill. Forward Cory Conacher will be inserted into the lineup to take his place. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will start. The Lightning are 5-0-2 in their past seven games, four points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and five behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division. "We're facing another good team from the West," defenseman Andrej Sustr said. "We are playing well and want to continue but we're playing a very good team with a lot of skill so we have to be smart with the puck."


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg -- Sam Bennett -- Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajan -- Alex Chiasson

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Michael Stone 

Matt Bartkowski -- Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Dennis Wideman, Jyrki Jokipakka, Freddie Hamilton

Injured: None


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Brayden Point -- Cory Conacher

Brian Boyle -- Valtteri Filppula -- Vladislav Namestnikov

Gabriel Dumont -- Cedric Paquette -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Luke Witkowski

Injured: Jonathan Drouin (illness), Ryan Callahan (hip), Steven Stamkos (knee)


Status report

Stone will be paired with Brodie, and Engelland will play with Bartkowski. … Conacher was called up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Wednesday


Who's hot

Gaudreau had four assists against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and has 10 points (goal, nine assists) in his past nine games. … Kucherov had a goal and three assists against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday to end a four-game stretch without a point. … Point has three goals and two assists in his past five games.

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