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Lightning return home to face struggling Avalanche

by Corey Long / NHL.com

AVALANCHE (2-5-1) at LIGHTNING (5-3-2)

TV: ALT, SUN

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning return to Amalie Arena for the first time since Oct. 17 to play the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

The Lightning went 1-1-2 on their recent four-game road trip and will enjoy two games at home before beginning another four-game road trip next week.

"It's always good to get back in front of the fans and feed off their energy," Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said. "We had good road trip but not a great road trip. You can't let these games early in the season slip by so it's important to get these two on home ice."

Bishop has been a workhorse for the Lightning in the early part of the season. He will be making his 10th start in 11 games but he is not complaining about the heavy workload.

"I wasn't expecting it but when [Andrei Vasilevskiy] got hurt you could see it coming," Bishop said. "You want to embrace the challenge right now. I'd rather play 82 games if I could but obviously that's not going to happen."

Vasilevskiy practiced with the Lightning earlier in the week and was assigned to Syracuse of the American Hockey League for conditioning Wednesday. He is expected to join Tampa Bay after the homestand.

The Avalanche will finish their swing through Florida after a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Goalie Semyon Varlamov will start for Colorado. He is 1-3-1 with a 3.93 goals-against average and .869 save percentage.

"I just want him to play his game and focus on one save at a time," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Not look too far ahead and build his confidence around there. He's working hard. I had some slow starts, many slow starts, but the key is how hard you're working and [Varlamov] has the right attitude."

Roy is moving some of parts around on his top three lines. Alex Tanguay and Nathan MacKinnon will move to the top line with Jarome Iginla. Dennis Everberg will play on the third line centered by Carl Soderberg.

"I won't lie to you, everyone that knows me knows I hate to lose," Roy said. "But it is what it is. The thing I don't want to do is panic. I like to give them as much time as possible to see if things are working."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Jack Skille

Dennis Everberg - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Mikhail Grigorenko

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov - Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Brad Stuart, Brandon Gormley

LIGHTNING

Jonathan Drouin - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Vladislav Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Erik Condra

Alex Killorn - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matt Carle - Jason Garrison

Andrej Sustr - Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Kristers Gudlevskis

Injured: Andrei Vasilevskiy (collarbone), Cedric Paquette (lower body)

Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault, Braydon Coburn

Status report: Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Boyle remains day-to-day even though he participated in the morning skate. ...The Avalanche had a mandatory morning skate Thursday after Roy canceled a practice scheduled for Wednesday. ...Marchessault was recalled from Syracuse on Thursday.

Who's hot: Hedman's nine assists are third in the NHL. ...Landeskog scored the only goal for Colorado on Tuesday.

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