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Hedman will play Game 1 for Lightning against Blue Jackets

Defenseman missed four games with upper-body injury

by Corey Long / Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla. -- Victor Hedman will play for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVAS, SUN, FS-O).

"Good to go," coach Jon Cooper said.

The defenseman, who missed the final four games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, returned to practice Monday and skated again Tuesday.


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"Yeah, it's encouraging, we'll see tomorrow," Hedman said. "Two good practices with the team so, you know, it's go time for our team, so hopefully I'm out there tomorrow."

Hedman, the 2018 Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman, has not played since a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on March 30. He led Lightning defensemen with 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) in 70 games this season, finishing 11th among NHL defensemen in scoring.

Forward Ryan Callahan (undisclosed) was on the ice Tuesday after missing practice Monday. He left in the second period of a 6-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Defenseman Anton Stralman (lower body) missed practice for the second consecutive day and is not expected to play Wednesday.

"[Stralman is] improving," Cooper said. "But still not ready to go quite yet."

Jan Rutta, who was paired with Mikhail Sergachev in practice, is a likely candidate to take Stralman's spot in the lineup. Rutta, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 11, had two assists in 14 games with the Lightning.

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