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Preview: Panthers at Lightning

Tampa Bay without Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette; Florida has lost four in a row

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (29-26-11) AT LIGHTNING (31-26-9)

7 p.m. ET, SUN, FS-F, NHL.TV

 

Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers will try to end a four-game losing streak. The Panthers, 1-6-1 in their past eight games after a 7-4 home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday, are six points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Captain Derek MacKenzie told the Sun Sentinel the season is on the line against the Lightning. "Yes, absolutely," MacKenzie said. "When you're not playing your best hockey, you can't just throw on the switch and get two points. We got to stick with it and get back [Saturday] in Tampa." Florida, which has the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 12 games. The Panthers have won two of three against the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. Florida's flight was delayed, and the Panthers did not arrive in Tampa until late Saturday morning.

 

Lightning team scope

Tampa Bay, 7-2-2 in its past 11 games, will be without centers Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette, who are day to day each with a lower-body injury sustained Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. The Lightning are four points behind the Islanders for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. "We've got no room to take our foot off the gas," coach Jon Cooper said. "They are going to be a desperate team looking for points and we have to be the same." Centers Steven Stamkos (knee) and Namestnikov each took part in the optional morning skate. Stamkos also skated on his own for nearly an hour before the team skate.

 

Panthers projected lines

Reilly Smith -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Colton Sceviour

Thomas Vanek -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault

Jussi Jokinen -- Derek MacKenzie -- Denis Malgin

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

James Reimer

Reto Berra

Scratched: Shawn Thornton, Michael Sgarbossa, Jakub Kindl

Injured: Roberto Luongo (lower body)

 

Lightning projected lines

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Yanni Gourde -- Jonathan Drouin

Adam Erne -- Matthew Peca -- J.T. Brown

Gabriel Dumont -- Greg McKegg

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Luke Witkowski

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: none

Injured: Steven Stamkos (knee), Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body), Vladislav Namestnikov (lower body)

 

Status report

The Lightning called up Peca from Syracuse of the American Hockey League to fill one of the openings at center. Witkowski will be used as a defenseman and a fourth-line wing. ... Reimer has started the past three games, including Friday against the Wild, and could sit for Berra on Saturday.

 

Who's hot

Vasilevskiy is 4-0-1 in his past five starts. ... Kucherov has nine goals in the past eight games. ...Trocheck has four assists in the past two games.

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