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Lightning look to gain in Atlantic Division race

Goaltender Schneider returns for Devils

by Corey Long / Correspondent

DEVILS (37-33-8) at LIGHTNING (44-28-5)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG+, SUN, NHL.TV

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning would move closer to clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at Amalie Arena.

The Lightning need to defeat the Devils and for the Detroit Red Wings to lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation Saturday in order to qualify for the postseason. 

Tampa Bay, 3-2-0 on a six-game homestand, trails the Florida Panthers by two points for first place in the Atlantic Division with five games remaining. Florida hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

"Teams are winning behind us and teams are winning ahead of us so we have to take care of business," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We have to be more consistent in our game. We can't go hard for 15 minutes here and take 10 minutes off. We have to play hard from the minute the puck drops.

"We need to have a relentless, hounding attitude that we are not giving up on pucks," Cooper said. "And when we do get them we have to shoot. Too many times we've gone in the zone and had some great offensive structure and didn't get a shot off."

The Devils, who came into play Saturday seven points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, welcome back goalie Cory Schneider to the lineup. 

Schneider, a 2016 NHL All-Star, has been sidelined with a MCL sprain sustained against the Dallas Stars on March 4.

"I'm excited, it's been four weeks and it feels like a long time for me," Schneider said. "I just have to make sure to play my game and be relaxed and confident."

Schneider served as backup to Keith Kinkaid in a 3-2 loss Thursday to the Panthers.

Defenseman David Schlemko (upper body) and center Jacob Josefson (wrist) also return to the Devils lineup Saturday after missing time with injuries. 

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will make his 59th start of the season. He has won four of his past five starts.

Here are the projected lineups:


Tyler Kennedy - Adam Henrique - Devante Smith-Pelly

Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Mike Sislo - Jacob Josefson - Sergey Kalinin

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Blake Pietila

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - David Schlemko

Vojtech Mozik - Damon Severson

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Jiri Tlusty (upper body), Jordin Tootoo (wrist), Mike Cammalleri (hand), Jon Merrill (upper body), Patrik Elias (knee)

Scratched: Joseph Blandisi, Seth Helgeson, David Warsofsky


Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Cedric Paquette - Valtteri Filppula - J.T. Brown

Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra
Victor Hedman - Matthew Carle

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn - Slater Koekkoek

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Anton Stralman (fractured fibula)

Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault, Mike Blunden, Nikita Nesterov

Status report: Stralman said he hopes to return for the playoffs. "I'm trying to do everything I can to heal up quick and hopefully be back for the playoffs at some point," he said. … Marchessault will be out of the lineup a day after Cooper spoke highly about his play on the line with Johnson and Palat.

Who's hot: Palat has eight points (two goals, six assists) in the past five games. ... Sislo scored a goal on three shots in a 3-2 loss to the Panthers on Thursday.

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