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Lightning without Palat in Game 2 against Canadiens

by Arpon Basu

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper dressed defenseman Andrej Sustr to take the lineup spot of injured forward Ondrej Palat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

Cooper has often dressed seven defensemen this season; he estimates he has done so in about half of his team's games.

"There's tons of reasons why I've done this, but we've seemed to have some success at it," Cooper said Friday morning. "We're used to it. This isn't something that we're doing for the first time, we've done it 40 times this year, I think. It just gives you a little bit different dynamic, it takes minutes away from some people, adds minutes for some people, and it seemed to work out for us."

Palat left Game 1 on Wednesday with an upper-body injury after playing one shift to start the third period.

"You just feel for Palat because you're missing a guy that led our team in scoring," Cooper said. "He plays a big part on special teams, plays both power play and penalty kill. It's a big hole for us, but we've dealt with this stuff before and every team deals with it."

The Canadiens lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.

Palat, 23, led the Lightning with 59 points and a plus-32 rating this season and plays a leading role on the top penalty-killing pairing up front with Tyler Johnson.

"He's been playing tremendously well at both ends of the ice," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "Goals, hits, blocking shots; he's the whole package."

In Palat's absence in Game 1 on Wednesday, Alex Killorn was moved up to take his place on a line with Johnson and captain Steven Stamkos, and Richard Panik took Killorn's spot on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan.

"We've managed our lineup, we've had a multitude of players coming in and out of our lineup," Cooper said. "So we've gone 12 [forwards] and six [defensemen], 11 and seven, we've almost split that down the middle during the year. So we're pretty comfortable either way we go, we've got a lot of guys who can come in."

This is the latest hurdle the Lightning have faced this season, starting with the broken leg sustained by Stamkos on Nov. 11 to the upper-body injury that has kept starting goaltender Ben Bishop out of the series against Montreal.

At the very least, Tampa Bay has gotten a lot of practice when it comes to replacing key parts.

"We've had a hole in our lineup all year and other guys have stepped up and played well," Stamkos said. "[Palat] is an unbelievable player, we've seen what he can do this year, but it will just give other guys an opportunity to step up and hopefully rise to the occasion.

"That's been a reason why we've had a lot of success this year, is because we've gone through that adversity, we've had key guys out of the lineup and it hasn't been all together, it's been spaced out. We've dealt with that situation before and we'll have to deal with it again."

While the Lightning were forced into making changes to the lineup, the Canadiens were not and coach Michel Therrien confirmed he will go with the same group that outshot Tampa Bay 44-25 in Game 1. That means forwards Ryan White and George Parros and defensemen Douglas Murray and Jarred Tinordi will be scratched. Forward Travis Moen is out with a concussion.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Thomas Vanek

Brandon Prust - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Brian Gionta

Michael Bournival - Daniel Briere - Dale Weise

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Francis Bouillon - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Injured: Alex Galchenyuk (upper body), Travis Moen (concussion)

Scratched: George Parros, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi


Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Steven Stamkos

Richard Panik - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

Teddy Purcell - Nate Thompson - J.T. Brown

Nikita Kucherov - Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer - Michael Kostka

Andrej Sustr

Anders Lindback

Kristers Gudlevskis

Injured: Ondrej Palat (upper body), Ben Bishop (upper body).

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Ryan Malone, B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk, Tom Pyatt.

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