NASHVILLE -- Some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's best players are traveling with the team during this four-game road trip and are close to returning from injury, but remain out.
Forwards Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula each participated in the Lightning's morning skate Thursday for their game against the Nashville Predators, but coach Jon Cooper said Filppula (ankle), the closer of the two to returning, would not dress.
"Val's out," Cooper said. "This is probably a day-to-day thing."
Backup goalie Anders Lindback, another injured player, was sent to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment.
"We were hoping to get all three of those guys back," Cooper said. "Not getting one is a little disappointing. We knew it was going to come down to this type of scenario. As I said, I don't expect this to be long. I fully expect [Filppula] to play on the road trip."
To take Filppula's spot in the lineup, center Vladislav Namestnikov was expected to play in his second NHL game.
Defenseman Michael Kostka, claimed recently off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks, was expected to be scratched. Kostka hasn't played in the NHL since Jan. 26. He has played only nine games this season, but has scored two goals and added an assist and is plus-3. Cooper coached Kostka in the AHL and wants him to get a few more practices before he joins the lineup.
"As I told him, he's a depth defenseman for us," Cooper said. "He's going to play a role and he'll help us win games. He's just got to wait until his name's called to get in. … He'll find his way on the power play or something."
Here are the projected lineups for the Lightning and Predators:
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Alex Killorn - Teddy Purcell
Tom Pyatt – Nate Thompson – B.J. Crombeen
J.T. Brown - Vladislav Namestnikov – Nikita Kucherov
Matt Carle - Radko Gudas
Victor Hedman – Sami Salo
Eric Brewer – Mark Barberio
Scratched: Michael Kostka, Keith Aulie
Injured: Valtteri Filppula
Gabriel Bourque – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Simon Moser – Colin Wilson – Viktor Stalberg
Matt Cullen - Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto – Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm – Seth Jones
Scratched: Victor Bartley