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Lightning look to tighten up defensively vs. Islanders

by Corey Long

ISLANDERS (11-5-0) at LIGHTNING (11-4-2)


TAMPA -- As the Tampa Bay Lightning enters their fourth week without injured defenseman Victor Hedman the cracks in their play are beginning to show.

The Lightning have given up more than 30 shots in five of their past six games, including 39 in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Despite solid play from goalie Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay has lost their past two games entering Saturday against the New York Islanders at Amalie Arena.

The Islanders (11-5-0) are on a five-game winning streak, their longest since February 2008.

"They are a hot team right now and it's going to be another test for us," Lightning assistant coach Rick Bowness said. "They have a lot of young talent, they can put the puck in the net and much like San Jose they are going to bring the pressure."

Bowness said the Lightning's troubles aren't necessarily a defensive issue but an overall team concern.

"We've got to do a better job with our puck management," Bowness said. "That was our big issue against San Jose. We didn't control things in our zone like I know we are capable of. They just played better than us in all facets."

Bishop will start for the Lightning. Goalie Chad Johnson will start for the Islanders on the second game of their back-to-back

"He's performed well in these situations so far this season," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We are facing a team that skates well and is hungry for a win. So it's going to be a challenge."

Islanders forward Josh Bailey came off injured reserve and returned to the lineup Friday. He had an assist in a 4-3 shootout win against the Florida Panthers.

"They have a lot of balance with their lines," Bowness said. "It's more than [John] Tavares and that top line. They can attack from all areas."

Here are the projected lineups:


Nikolay Kulemin - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Mikhail Grabovski

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Chad Johnson

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Matt Donovan, Brian Strait, Cory Conacher

Injured: Matt Carkner (back), Michael Grabner (lower body), Eric Boulton (lower body)


Valtteri FilppulaSteven StamkosRyan Callahan

Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov

Cedric Paquette/Jonathan DrouinVladislav NamestnikovAlex Killorn

Brenden MorrowBrian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Matthew CarleAnton Stralman

Andrej SustrEric Brewer

Jason GarrisonRadko Gudas

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Victor Hedman (fractured finger), Brett Connolly (lower body)

Status report: Each team participated in lightly-attended optional skates Saturday. …Palat (lower body) participated and will be a game-time decision along with any other possible lineup changes according to Bowness. …Johnson will be making his first start since Nov. 6, a 2-1 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings. …Clutterbuck will be a game-time decision according to Capuano.

Who's hot: Stamkos has three goals in his past three games. …Tavares scored in the Islanders' win Friday and has three goals in his past five games.

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