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Lightning expect to have Gudas back against Jets

by Patrick Williams

LIGHTNING (4-2-1) at JETS (2-4-0)


WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning begin to wind down a five-game road trip when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Friday at MTS Centre.

The Lightning have had two days off after splitting two games in Alberta, a loss against the Edmonton Oilers followed by an overtime win against the Calgary Flames. After facing Winnipeg, the Lightning end their trip Saturday at the Minnesota Wild.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "Certain areas [of focus] have kind of slipped in certain periods of games, but for the most part I think we would have taken that at the beginning of the [season]. But we've got to finish off this road trip. It has been pretty good so far."

The Lightning are dealing with several key injuries, but coach Jon Cooper said he expects to have defenseman Radko Gudas, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, back in the lineup. Defenseman Mark Barberio, who played the past two games, will sit.

However, right wing Ryan Callahan (lower body) will not dress in Winnipeg, and Cooper termed his status as "week-to-week." Center Alex Killorn (upper body) will not play, and defenseman Victor Hedman (finger) will remain out for the next 4-6 weeks.

"This team has gone through injuries before," Stamkos said. "We know how to respond. For the guys who were here last [season], it was tough. I think for the most part we've done a good job."

The Lightning recalled forward Cedric Paquette from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League and sent right wing Mike Blunden back to Syracuse. Paquette had three goals and two assists in five games with Syracuse.

Paquette played all four of Tampa Bay's games in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Cooper said Paquette could have made the Lightning out of training camp if not for roster and contract considerations.

"Cedric is a gritty player," Cooper said. "I think that if you look at some of the guys that we've lost on our team -- Gudas, Killorn, Callahan, Hedman -- we've lost a little bit of jam on our team. [Paquette] is a gritty player. He is not afraid of anybody."

The Jets will use the same lineup that produced a 3-1 home win Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes that broke a four-game losing streak.

Jets coach Paul Maurice had a simple plan for preparing his team for Tampa Bay.

"Talk about all of the things that we liked, the reasons that they took place and prepare to do them again," Maurice said.

Breaking their losing streak eased some of the tension around the Jets, at least temporarily. After an off-day Wednesday, the Jets had a lively practice Thursday.

"Things get tough [during a losing streak] and you're trying to stay positive and keep the positivity in the dressing room, but it's tough," Jets center Bryan Little said. "It definitely is a lot better atmosphere here when you're winning games."

Ben Bishop will make his second consecutive start in goal for the Lightning, while Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the sixth time in the first seven games for the Jets.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Drouin - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Brett Connolly

Nikita Kucherov - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Anton Stralman - Matthew Carle

Radko Gudas - Jason Garrison

Andrej Sustr - Eric Brewer

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Ryan Callahan (lower body), Victor Hedman (finger), Alex Killorn (upper body)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Dustin Byfuglien

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

TJ Galiardi - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik

Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Matt Halischuk

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Adam Pardy

Injured: Evander Kane (knee), Anthony Peluso (upper body)

Status report: Peluso is day-to-day with his injury while Kane's return is not imminent. Kane skated after Tampa Bay's morning skate. … After playing the first five games of the season, Pardy will sit out his second consecutive game.

Who's hot: The Tampa Bay power play entered play Friday fifth in the NHL at 26.9 percent. … Johnson has a four-game point streak while Garrison has points in his past three games.

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