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Preview: Wild at Lightning

Minnesota missing defenseman Matt Dumba; Tampa Bay juggling lines to find offense

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD (42-16-6) at LIGHTNING (30-26-9)

7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV

 

Wild team scope

The Minnesota Wild are one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. Defenseman Matt Dumba will not be in the lineup while he continues to recover from an illness, though it's not the mumps that affected some players. "We [seem to] find different viruses every week for the last little while," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Hopefully it's ended here and Dumba and [equipment manager Tony DeCosta] are the last ones." Dumba did not travel with the Wild because of the illness but was at the morning skate after taking a later flight Wednesday. Boudreau said he was going back to lines close to the ones the Wild used in a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. "We played so well that game," he said. "We have to try to get combinations and leaving them together to get accustomed to each other." The Wild begin a five-game road trip with back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. They're 15-2-1 in their past 18 road games and second in the NHL with 43 road points.

 

Lightning team scope

The Lightning are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games and begin play four points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Coach Jon Cooper said he's concerned with the Lightning's recent lack of scoring. "We've had one goal in regulation [the past two games]," he said. "I'm trying to move some things around because we've got to get some guys going offensively. What we start with [Thursday] may not be what we finish with." At the morning skate, forward Yanni Gourde was moved to the second line with Brayden Point and Alex Killorn, and Jonathan Drouin was shifted to a line with Adam Erne and Vladislav Namestnikov. Drouin hasn't scored a goal in his past six games. Captain Steven Stamkos skated on his own before joining the Lightning at the morning skate but didn't participate in line rushes or contact drills. "Every report we're getting on him is positive," Cooper said. "He was given a window of 4-6 months. We're in that window. He's progressing well but there's no specifics. But it's really good to have him around." Stamkos hasn't played since tearing the lateral meniscus in right knee on Nov. 15.

 

Wild projected lineup

Zach Parise -- Eric Staal -- Chris Stewart

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter -- Martin Hanzal -- Ryan White

Charlie Coyle -- Erik Haula -- Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Gustav Olofsson

Marco Scandella -- Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder

Injured: Matt Dumba (illness), Christian Folin (upper body)

 

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Adam Erne -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Jonathan Drouin

Gabriel Dumont -- Cedric Paquette -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Greg McKegg, Luke Witkowski

Injured: Steven Stamkos (knee), Ryan Callahan (hip)

 

Status report

Coyle was moved to left wing on the fourth line, where Boudreau said he can protect the puck better. White was moved to the third line. ... The Lightning have dressed seven defensemen in the past two games and could do it again against the Wild, with Witkowski playing and Brown or Dumont coming out.

 

Who's hot

Granlund has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past eight games. Koivu has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past eight games. … Kucherov has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past seven games. Vasilevskiy is 3-0-1 with a .956 save percentage in his past four games.

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