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Preview: Blackhawks at Lightning

Tampa Bay begins critical homestand trailing Boston by three points for second wild card

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (48-21-6) at LIGHTNING (36-29-9)

7:30 p.m.: NBCSN, TVA Sports, CSN-CH

 

Blackhawks team scope

The Chicago Blackhawks are seven points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference but coach Joel Quenneville is making a lineup change by scratching forward Ryan Hartman after he struggled in a 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday. "[Sending a] message or whatever, I think sometimes you have to learn how to handle certain situations," Quenneville said. "And I think we have different options as well. That's where we're at." The Blackhawks are 6-2-0 in their past eight road games and second in the NHL behind the New York Rangers with 23 road wins. "I think the key for us is just simplifying things on the road," forward Andrew Desjardins said. "Especially in the first 5-10 minutes when the opponent is really trying to get off to a good start at home." Goalie Scott Darling will start for the Blackhawks. He's 18-5-3 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season.

 

Lightning team scope

The Tampa Bay Lightning begin a crucial four-game homestand trailing the Boston Bruins by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay has a game in hand but Boston has a 37-32 edge in regulation plus overtime wins. The Lightning have lost their past three home games (0-3-0) but coach Jon Cooper said they remain confident at Amalie Arena. "We've made a pretty good run on home ice, unfortunately the last three here didn't go the way we wanted," Cooper said. "But if you're given this team a choice we're definitely picking to play at home." Forward Jonathan Drouin said even though the Lightning recovered from a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on March 21 with back-to-back wins on the road they learned a lesson about protecting home ice. "We feel like we gave away points, especially in the Arizona game," Drouin said. "But we have gotten back to our style and we know we have to be strong defensively against this Chicago team." Centers Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette, and defenseman Jason Garrison, did not participate in the morning skate and remain out indefinitely. Center Steven Stamkos continues to skate with the Lightning but will not play. There is no update on a return to the lineup.

 

Blackhawks projected lines

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Tanner Kero -- Patrick Kane

Tomas Jurco -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

John Hayden -- Andrew Desjardins -- Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny Oduya -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Scott Darling

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Ryan Hartman, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival, Dennis Rasmussen

Injured: Artem Anisimov (lower body)


 
Lightning projected lines

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Jonathan Drouin

Adam Erne -- Yanni Gourde -- Joel Vermin

Gabriel Dumont -- Greg McKegg -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Anton Stralman -- Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn -- Luke Witkowski

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: None

Injured: Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), Jason Garrison (lower body), Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body)

 

Status report

Jurco is replacing Hartman in the lineup. .... ... Quenneville said the timetable for Anisimov's return to the lineup remain the same. ... Witkowski will remain on defense with Garrison out indefinitely.

 

Who's hot

Kucherov has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in his past four games. ....Kane has 21 points (13 goals, eight assists) in his past 15 games. ... Point has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past seven games. ... Darling has a .951 save percentage in his past six starts (6-0-0).

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