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Lightning defenseman Carle expected to return

by David Satriano / NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Defenseman Matthew Carle likely will return to the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I think he is going to be available," Lightning coach John Cooper said after the morning skate.

Carle, who missed Game 4 on Friday with an undisclosed injury, had played in all 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games prior to that. He took part in the morning skate and was optimistic.

"I feel good," Carle said. "I don't know if I'm playing yet, but we will see."

Carle sustained the injury on a hit from Rangers forward Derek Stepan in Game 3.

"It was kind of a blindside hit and I didn't see [Stepan] coming and I was obviously pretty shaken up," he said. "It was just kind of a blindside thing. Guys were moving out there pretty quick, and it happens from time to time."

Carle has two assists in the playoffs, and defenseman Anton Stralman said he is an important part of the team.

"He's a positionally solid defenseman," Stralman said. "He seems to be in the right places. He's a smart player, a good defender."

The Lightning lost 5-1 in Game 5. The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.

"It was tough watching it," Carle said. "I think I bit all my fingernails off watching the game; you get more nervous watching the game than you actually do playing it, and that game was obviously a tough one to watch."

The Lightning will try to improve their penalty-killing. They have allowed six goals on 13 Rangers power plays in the past three games.

"I think we can sharpen up a lot. Execute our plays," Stralman said. "When we have the puck, make sure the puck goes down the ice. We didn't protect the seams pretty well last game."

Forward Brian Boyle, who also logs time on the penalty kill, agreed.

"We didn't really execute. We just kind of gave them some opportunities, gave them some opportunities," he said. "They are good players. They are going to make us pay."

Here are the projected lineups:

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Nikita Kucherov - Tyler Johnson - Ondrej Palat

Brian Boyle - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle- Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Jonathan Drouin, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov, Mark Barberio

Injured: none

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - J.T. Miller

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - James Sheppard

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Ryan Bourque, Matt Hunwick, Chris Summers

Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper body)

Status report: The Lightning likely will dress seven defensemen. Barberio, who made his 2015 playoff debut in Game 4, will be a healthy scratch.

Who's hot: Stamkos has goals in three straight games and a goal in five of his past six games.

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