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Preseason Buzz: Stamkos expected to make preseason debut with Lightning

Forward hasn't played since injuring right knee Nov. 15 @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the 2017 preseason!

This is a busy time, with preseason games underway, rookies looking to make a name for themselves and veterans aiming to lock down roster spots. Each day, we will have all the updates of note right here.

Here is the preseason news for Friday:


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Stamkos ready to make preseason debut for Lightning

Forward Steven Stamkos is expected to play for the first time in more than 10 months when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena on Friday.

Stamkos hasn't played since Nov. 15, when he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee during a game against the Detroit Red Wings. He had surgery two days later and missed the rest of the season.

He's had no restrictions since training camp started last week.

"Obviously it's been a while since I've played in a game. I'm anxious and excited to get this one going tonight," Stamkos said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Training camp has gone extremely well, [the] team has worked hard. I feel better than I thought I would coming in. It's all been positive, and this is just another step in getting prepared for [the Lightning's season-opener on] Oct. 6."

Stamkos isn't the only Lightning regular expected to make his preseason debut against Nashville. Forwards Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Chris Kunitz and Alex Killorn are scheduled to play for the first time, as are defenseman Victor Hedman and No. 1 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.


Duchene scores in first preseason game for Avalanche 

Center Matt Duchene scored a third-period goal in his preseason debut for the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Thursday. 

Duchene, who has been the subject of trade rumors since last season, didn't speak with the media after the game.

He served as an alternate captain and received a warm welcome from the fans when he was introduced as part of the starting lineup.

Duchene skated on a line with rookie left wing Alex Kerfoot (one goal, one assist) and right wing Nail Yakupov (three assists). Yakupov fed Duchene skating down left wing for a shot that beat Stars backup goalie Landon Bow at 5:56 of the third period.

"I can't speak for Matt's feelings," coach Jared Bednar said. "I know this: I've talked to him, I think he's come back a motivated player and he's playing with two other good players, and that line's been good all training camp."

Duchene had six shots in 18:38 of ice time, won 17 of 21 faceoffs and was plus-2.

"Absolutely," Bednar said when asked if he liked Duchene's game. "I thought that line was really good, all three guys."

The line combined for six points (two goals, four assists), nine shots and a plus-6 rating.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov also made his preseason debut and had 21 saves.

-- Rick Sadowski


Smith set to face former teammates with Flames

Goaltender Mike Smith, who was traded to the Calgary Flames from the Arizona Coyotes on June 17, is expected to start Friday when Calgary hosts Arizona at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Although it's just a preseason game, it's one Smith is looking forward to.

"It's special," he said. "You spend the majority of your career in one spot. I have a lot of good memories in Arizona. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't kind of unique and special, but at the same time I'm trying to get adjusted to my new surroundings and get my game going heading into the regular season."

Smith, 35, went 128-132-41 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 312 games during six seasons with the Coyotes. He was 19-26-9 with a 2.92 GAA and .914 save percentage in 55 games last season.

The Coyotes shuffled their roster during the offseason, meaning Smith may not see a lot of familiar faces. Among those he will know are goaltender Louis Domingue and forwards Jordan Martinook, Anthony Duclair and Lawson Crouse. Forwards Christian Fischer and Tyler Gaudet also played briefly with the Coyotes last season.

"There's not that many guys that I actually know, so I think it'll be kind of strange playing against your former team that you won't have a lot of guys that you played with on it," Smith said. "There's definitely some guys that have been there and I've touched base with a little bit and a couple guys that didn't make the trip that I'm good friends with.

"I'm going to enjoy it and have fun with it, but at the same time I'm trying to get some work done too. I'm not going to get too caught up in it."

The first regular-season game between the Pacific Division rivals is Nov. 30 in Calgary.

-- Aaron Vickers


Tkachuk resumes skating, hopes to play for Flames on Monday

Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who has yet to dress for a preseason game because of a hip flexor injury, resumed skating Friday following a three-day absence and could play as early as Monday at the Winnipeg Jets.

"It's preseason so I still think I should be getting in a couple games and get my timing back," Tkachuk said. "It's good to be out there and getting back and working on on-ice conditioning and feeling the puck and skating with the teammates and getting familiar with the new guys. I want to hit the ground running this year. It's unfortunate I've had to miss about a week at the beginning, but it's not the end of the world. I should be ready to go."

Tkachuk had not participated in a practice with teammates since Saturday, but had skated on his own.

Coach Glen Gulutzan said the goal is to have Tkachuk play against the Jets, but the Flames won't push him.

"One hundred percent he's a possibility, but we call him day-by-day because our target was always Monday," Gulutzan said. "We're not going to push anything if he's not there yet. We've still got two more games after the Monday game."

-- Aaron Vickers

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