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Lightning's Carle could return for Game 4

Tampa Bay defenseman expects physical game from New York

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor


Eastern Conference Second Round

Tampa Bay leads best-of-7 series 2-1

TV: 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

NEW YORK -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle practiced at an optional morning skate and said he'd likely be a game-time decision against the New York Islanders in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Barclays Center on Friday.

The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Carle hasn't played since sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 1 against the Islanders on April 27. He had one assist and a minus-2 rating in a 5-3 loss.

"You get more nervous watching than you do playing," Carle said Friday. "It's not fun to have to watch."

Game 3, which Tampa Bay won 5-4 in overtime Tuesday, was the most physical of the series thus far. Carle said that type of play likely will increase as it progresses and that doesn't concern him coming off his injury.

"You try to get yourself involved as soon as possible when you come off a break," said Carle, who has two assists in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. "Regardless of when that is, obviously in the playoffs the intensity gets ramped up. This has been a pretty physical series. You hear them talking about in the media to try and be physical on our guys, so it's something to be expected."

A loss Friday could make it the Islanders' last home game of the season; the series shifts back to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). A win assures New York of another home game on Tuesday.

"It's just a huge game," Islanders forward Matt Martin said. "It's a 2-1 series. Obviously the last game, it was disappointing to lose, but those things happen. It was one of our best games of the playoffs so far. There was a lot of good we can take from it, things we can correct to get better for tonight. But this game is huge and we need to get off to the same sort of start. But I like our chances. If we play like we did [Tuesday], we're going to win more than we lose. We want to get another game here, and that's our plan."  

Here are the projected lineups:


Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Jonathan Drouin

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan

Vladislav Namestnikov - Jonathan Marchessault

Victor Hedman - Matthew Carle

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov - Braydon Coburn

Matt Taormina

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Steven Stamkos (vascular surgery), Mike Blunden (upper body), Anton Stralman (leg), J.T. Brown (upper body), Erik Condra (upper body)

Scratched: Joel Vermin, Slater Koekkoek


Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Shane Prince - Ryan Strome - Steve Bernier

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Ryan Pulock

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Injured: Anders Lee (broken fibula), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Jaroslav Halak (lower body)

Scratched: Alan Quine, Eric Boulton, James Wright, Brian Strait, Marek Zidlicky, Christopher Gibson

Status report: Stamkos (no-contact jersey) and Stralman skated Friday but neither spoke with the media. Condra and Brown skated as well. … The Lightning could go with seven defensemen, including Carle. Taormina has played the past two games but had four shifts totaling 2:43 in Game 3. ... Pulock participated in an optional morning skate. If he's able to play, he would replace Zidlicky in the lineup. "It feels good," said Pulock, who hasn't played since Game 4 against the Florida Panthers in the first round because of an upper-body injury. "We'll see what happens tonight, see how it feels later and see if I play." Quine, who scored the double-overtime goal in Game 5 against Florida in the first round, was one of the last players to leave the ice Friday, an indication he won't play.

Who's hot: Johnson has two goals and four points in the Lightning's wins in Games 2 and 3. … Kucherov's last-minute tying goal in Game 3 was his League-leading seventh of the playoffs. … Drouin has one goal and three assists in the past three games and set up Kucherov's tying goal. … Clutterbuck has two goals and an assist in the series. … Bailey scored two goals in Game 3, his first game of the series. He missed the first two games because of an upper-body injury.

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