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Lightning's Filppula close, but still out vs. Predators

by John Manasso

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 PalatTyler JohnsonMartin St. Louis

Ryan Malone - Alex Killorn - Teddy Purcell

Tom PyattNate ThompsonB.J. Crombeen

J.T. Brown - Vladislav NamestnikovNikita Kucherov

Matt Carle - Radko Gudas

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Eric BrewerMark Barberio

Ben Bishop

Kristers Gudlevskis

Scratched: Michael Kostka, Keith Aulie

Injured: Valtteri Filppula


Gabriel BourqueDavid LegwandCraig Smith

Eric NystromMike FisherPatric Hornqvist

Simon MoserColin WilsonViktor Stalberg

Matt Cullen - Paul GaustadRich Clune

Roman JosiShea Weber

Michael Del ZottoRyan Ellis

Mattias EkholmSeth Jones

Carter Hutton

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Victor Bartley

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