TAMPA -- When the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing 65 minutes of uneven hockey Saturday, the New York Rangers were relaxing in their hotel. It took a shootout to decide matters in the Lightning's 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
This might appear give the Rangers a huge advantage heading into the game Sunday against the Lightning, but appearances can be deceiving.
The Lightning are 4-0-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games this season and Tampa Bay is 14-3-2 at home, going unbeaten in regulation in its past six games at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"It might mean something or it might not," Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. "It depends on how we play. This League has a lot of travel and all, so players are used to it."
That would appear to be so, at least according to Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. He logged 23 minutes of ice time against the Canadiens but was ready for more Sunday.
"I feel pretty good," Gudas said. "I'm ready to go again. I just need about an hour nap."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn't think his team would show fatigue against the Rangers, but he acknowledged that some of his opinions have been off lately.
"I don't even want to start predicting, because I predicted last night [after the layoff] the teams would be fine and everybody stunk," Cooper said. "I said the goalies would be brutal and they were great. So, I don't even know how this is going to work out. We've been on the ice for three days. If these guys are fatigued we're doing something wrong. It should be OK."
Defenseman Conor Allen will make his NHL debut Sunday for the Rangers, filling in for injured Anton Stralman. Stralman sustained an undisclosed injury that forced him out of the Rangers' loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday. Although he was on the ice for the morning skate, New York coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Stralman would not play.
Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal for New York after backing up Cam Talbot for three games.
Here are projected lineups:
Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – Rick Nash
Derick Brassard – Brad Richards – Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin – J.T. Miller – Benoit Pouliot
Brian Boyle – Dominic Moore – Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
John Moore – Michael Del Zotto
Justin Falk – Conor Allen
Scratched: Taylor Pyatt
Injured: Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, Ryan Callahan
Teddy Purcell – Valtteri Filppula – Alex Killorn
Martin St. Louis – Tyler Johnson – Ondrej Palat
Richard Panik – Tom Pyatt – Nikita Kucherov
Nate Thompson – J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman – Radko Gudas
Matthew Carle – Mark Barberio
Jean-Philippe Cote – Andrej Sustr
Scratched: Pierre-Cedric Labrie, B.J. Crombeen
Injured: Sami Salo (upper body), Eric Brewer (upper body) Ryan Malone (lower body)