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Lightning's Hedman questionable to face Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy /

LIGHTNING (47-23-7) at MAPLE LEAFS (28-42-6)


TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Lightning can take over first place in the Atlantic Division with a win Tuesday, but they may be without yet another key piece to their lineup.

Defenseman Victor Hedman is questionable to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SUN, TSN4) because of a lower-body injury.

Hedman left a 5-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday after one shift in the third period. The Lightning finished off a season sweep of the Canadiens to draw within one point of them in the Atlantic. Montreal is idle Tuesday. Each team has five regular-season games remaining.

The Lightning recalled defenseman Slater Koekkoek from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, and he could make his NHL debut if Hedman is unable to go.

The Maple Leafs are shooting for a second straight win after rallying for a 4-3 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Veteran defenseman Eric Brewer, who scored the decisive goal, started the season as a member of the Lightning before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks and then to the Maple Leafs.

"They're a good team," Brewer said. "A lot of their guys have played together for a while now, which helps, and they are a team that moves the puck, skates well and they are a puck-possession team. They cover a lot of ice and their goaltending has been very good."

Brewer, who played 246 games as a member of the Lightning, scoring 10 goals and 56 points, is especially fond of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

"He is one of the few guys in the League who commands true attention," Brewer said. "I think he gives a lot of room to a lot of other guys. He is such a focal point that other guys get less attention. When you have a guy like that it makes it easier to create considerable depth on your team. He is a very positive, forward-thinking guy.”

Stamkos is 12th in NHL scoring with 40 goals and 68 points. His 40 goals are tied for second in the NHL (with Rick Nash of the New York Rangers) behind Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who has 49.

The man charged with trying to shut the door on Stamkos is Toronto goalie James Reimer, who will make his second consecutive start. Reimer said he cherished the opportunity to play against the best scorers in the game.

"It's fun," Reimer said. "You know they are always going to give it their best and it's going to be exciting in that sense. You just hope you are up to the challenge."

Playing against Stamkos presents different challenges than, say, a guy like Ovechkin who likes to rush the puck. Stamkos prefers to set himself up for the one-timer.

"You just make sure you want to be square and have as much depth as possible," Reimer said. "He’s a guy who, if you give him and inch, he's going to take it. You just have to play him honest and always be ready for him to shoot. Sometimes he can be pretty deceptive so you always have to be on your guard."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Nikita Kucherov

Jonathan Drouin - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle- J.T. Brown

Mark Barberio - Matthew Carle

Nikita Nesterov - Anton Stralman

Luke Witkowski - Slater Koekkoek

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: none

Injured: Victor Hedman (lower body), Tyler Johnson (upper body), Andrej Sustr (upper body), Jason Garrison (upper body), Braydon Coburn (lower body)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Leo KomarovNazem KadriJoffrey Lupul

Zach SillSam CarrickRichard Panik

David BoothTrevor SmithJoakim Lindstrom

Eric BrewerDion Phaneuf

Jake GardinerMorgan Rielly

Tim ErixonTJ Brennan

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Casey Bailey, Brandon Kozun

Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)

Status report: Johnson, who is considered day-to-day, will miss a second straight game. … Boyle has spent a good deal of time in the past two games playing defense with the recent losses of Coburn, Garrison, Sustr and Hedman.

Who's hot: Namestnikov had two goals and one assist Monday and Drouin scored his third goal of the season, snapping a 42-game drought. Bishop assisted on the first two goals, giving him four assists on the season. … Bozak had a third-period hat trick against the Senators and assisted on Brewer's goal in overtime. … Rielly has assists in back-to-back games.

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