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Preview: Predators at Lightning

Forward Cedric Paquette returns for Tampa Bay; Nashville begins tough road stretch

by Corey Long / Correspondent

PREDATORS (16-14-7) at LIGHTNING (19-16-4)

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


Predators team scope

The Nashville Predators struggled in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. A strong effort from goalie Pekka Rinne (41 saves) allowed the Predators to get a point despite being outshot 43-23. Defenseman Roman Josi wants to take advantage of opportunities on both ends of the ice. "We getting chances to score and we just don't seem to put it in," Josi said. "We are all trying to give our best every night. We just have to keep working on it." The Predators play eight of their next 10 games on the road including back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and Florida Panthers on Friday before visiting the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. "We're just thinking about these next three on the road right now," coach Peter Laviolette said. "The next three are big, this is three games in four nights, and we have five games in the next eight nights. It's just a busy time in our schedule."


Lightning team scope

Forward Cedric Paquette said he is ready to return to the lineup after missing the past six games with a lower-body injury. "It's always tough to miss so many games," Paquette said. "But I feel good and I'm ready for [Thursday]. I just want to play my game and work hard to help the team get a win." The Lightning are 4-1-1 in their past six games at Amalie Arena but a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday has coach Jon Cooper searching for a more consistent effort. "You just have to stay true to your system and true to your habits and in the end you have your tail off," Cooper said. "Were we inconsistent last game? I suppose so, but it was the fact that we didn't work hard to defend the zone." This is the final game of a five-game homestead before back-to-back road games this weekend against the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Kevin Fiala

Austin Watson -- Mike Fisher -- James Neal

Calle Jarnkrok -- Colin Wilson -- Viktor Arvidsson

Colton Sissons -- Mike Ribeiro -- Craig Smith

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- Matt Irwin

Yannick Weber -- Anthony Bitetto

Pekka RInne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Petter Granberg, Harry Zolnierczyk,

Injured: P.K. Subban (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (hand)


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Ryan Callahan -- Valtteri Filppula -- Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Adam Erne

Cedric Paquette -- Matthew Peca -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison -- Andrej Sustr

Slater Koekkoek -- Braydon Coburn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Adam Wilcox

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov

Injured: Brian Boyle (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), Ben Bishop (lower body), Brayden Point (upper body)


Status report

Neal did not participate in the Predators morning skate (maintenance). ... The Predators recalled Bitetto from a conditioning assignment from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League and he is expected to be in the lineup after missing the past 15 games. ... Callahan missed practice Wednesday with a maintenance day but skated Thursday morning and will be in the lineup. … The Lightning recalled Wilcox from Syracuse of the AHL and sent down goalie Kristers Gudlevskis and forward Michael Bournival.


Who's hot

Kucherov had two goals Tuesday against the Jets and has eight points in the past four games. …Forsberg has five goals in the past seven games and Johansen has six points (five assists) in six games.

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