HURRICANES (10-20-4) at LIGHTNING (21-11-4)
TV: FS-CR, SUN
TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will return to the starting lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
The move was expected when the Lightning sent rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy back to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League after a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. Vasilevskiy was 2-1-0 in three NHL starts.
Bishop suffered a lower-body injury and hasn't played since Dec. 15. He said he could have played Tuesday but the team wanted to give him the extra days off with the Christmas break.
"I would have liked to have played against Pittsburgh, but we won the game and that's all that matters," Bishop said. "I felt good at the last practice and I feel good today, so I'm excited to get back out there."
Bishop said he was impressed with the effort of Vasilevskiy and that the young goaltender has a bright future in the NHL.
"He did a good job of coming in and being calm and collected right away," Bishop said. "It's hard to imagine he's just 20, but he came right in and played well."
This is the second game in a three-game homestand for the Lightning (21-11-4) and they will look to earn a second victory over the Hurricanes (10-20-4) this month.
Carolina is coming off of a 2-1 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils and Bishop said the Hurricanes are starting to put things together on the ice.
"They have been playing well as of late and they played us tough last time they were here," Bishop said. "We know we'll have to continue to skate hard because they are going to be looking to knock us off and get a winning streak of their own going."
The Hurricanes have been banged up and the questionable status of forward Jiri Tlusty has forced the team to call up rookie Brendan Woods from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL twice in the past week.
Meanwhile the Lightning did not have forward Jonathan Drouin available for the morning skate and replaced him in the line with forward Cedric Paquette. Drouin has not been officially ruled out of the lineup for Saturday.
"The good thing about Paquette is that he's one of the most versatile players on the team," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He can play either wing, he can play the middle. He is on the ice in the last minute of the game when we have a lead. He can play on the power play and he can kill penalties. He is a bit of a bull in a china shop."
Here are the projected lineups:
Eric Staal - Riley Nash - Nathan Gerbe
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm
Patrick Dwyer - Jay McClement - Chris Terry
Zach Boychuk - Brad Malone - Brendan Woods
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - John-Michael Liles
Ron Hainsey - Michal Jordan
Scratched: Tim Gleason
Injured: Jordan Staal (broken leg) Brett Bellemore (lower body), Alexander Semin (upper body), Andrej Nestrasil (upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body)
Cedric Paquette – Steven Stamkos – Brett Connolly
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula – Ryan Callahan
Brenden Morrow – Brian Boyle – J.T. Brown
Anton Stralman – Victor Hedman
Matthew Carle – Radko Gudas
Mark Barberio – Andrej Sustr
Injured: Jonathan Drouin (illness), Jason Garrison (undisclosed)
Status report: Nestrasil took part in conditioning after the morning skate. … Garrison is expected to return to the lineup Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Who's hot: Johnson had a hat trick in the win against Pittsburgh. … Hainsey scored his first goal of the season against New Jersey.