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Preview: Oilers at Lightning

Goalie Ben Bishop starts for Tampa Bay; Edmonton defenseman Kris Russell returns after missing five games

by Corey Long / Correspondent

OILERS (32-19-8) at LIGHTNING (26-24-8)

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


Oilers team scope

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell will play after missing five games with an undisclosed injury. "You want to help your teammates out and sitting in the stands you can't do too much," Russell said. "I was working hard to get back in the lineup and I'm happy to be back." Coach Todd McLellan said Russell will give the Oilers a boost in several areas. "He's been a big part of our long-term success," McLellan said. "He's a puck-mover, shot-blocker, penalty-killer, veteran stability back there. That's what he brings." With Edmonton playing the first game of a back-to-back set, goalie Laurent Brossoit will make his second start and fourth appearance. He is 1-0-0 with a 2.80 goals-against-average and .919 save percentage. "We've got to get [Brossoit] in some games," McLellan said. "We play back-to-back, we're on a long road trip." Cam Talbot will start against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. The Oilers are 4-1-0 in their past five games.


Lightning team scope

Goalie Ben Bishop will start for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bishop has won his past four starts (1.22 GAA, .953 save percentage), and coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning's efforts on defense have improved to complement his play. "As a team we're defending better," Cooper said. "We're not giving up the odd-man rushes and (we're) limiting the scoring chances, and right there that's helping the goaltending out. And Bishop is in command of his game. He's looks intimidating in there, he's making the big saves and not giving up rebounds." Despite Bishop's strong play, Cooper said he still plans on playing backup Andrei Vasilevskiy in a rotation. Bishop hasn't started three consecutive games since Dec. 3-8. "We've [got at least a point] in six straight games and both guys have played," Cooper said. "We have two guys that can play so it makes no sense to ride out on them. Is starting a guy two, three games in a row riding him? I would think starting a guy 10 games in a row is riding him." The Lightning are 4-0-2 in their past six games and six points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.


Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Matt Benning

Kris Russell -- Brandon Davidson

Laurent Brossoit

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Eric Gryba, Jujhar Khaira

Injured: Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL)


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Brayden Point -- Jonathan Drouin

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

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Luke Witkowski

Injured: Ryan Callahan (hip), Steven Stamkos (knee)


Status report

Russell will replace Gryba. ... Stamkos skated and did shooting drills for the first time since injuring his right knee on Nov. 15. The Lightning are expected to go with the same lineup from their previous two games.


Who's hot

Hedman has three goals and three assists in his past three games. Point has three goals and two assists in his past four games. ... Draisaitl has six goals and eight assists in his past 14 games. McDavid has six goals and 11 assists in his past 14 games.

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