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Palat remains a game-time decision for Lightning

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL – Tampa Bay Lightning rookie forward Ondrej Palat skated for a second straight day Sunday but remains a game-time decision for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (7 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, SUN).

"We have a lot of guys available to play," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "There will be 20 guys come seven o'clock that are going to be ready to play. He might or might not be one of those guys. I hope he's going to be one of those guys."

Palat left Game 1 after playing a shift to start the third period with an upper-body injury and missed Game 2. He practiced in Tampa on Saturday, and skated on a line with Nate Thompson and Richard Panik on Sunday morning.

"I had a really good skate [Saturday] and [Sunday] a good practice also," Palat said. "I feel good. We'll see what's going to happen."

Palat had been skating on a line with captain Steven Stamkos and fellow rookie Tyler Johnson, and if he does play may wind up back on that line in place of Alex Killorn.

"He's been one of our top players," Stamkos said. "We've dealt with key parts being out of our lineup all year at different stages so we've learned to adjust and deal with it. Obviously the more healthy guys you have in, the better chance you're going to give yourself. If he's back in tonight, obviously it's a big boost for us."

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said his team will need to be physical with Palat if he does play, and made a point of mentioning how the Canadiens "know where Palat is injured."

Therrien was not the only one throwing jabs Sunday, however.

The Canadiens are coming home with a 2-0 series lead, but they have lost the last three series where they were in this unique situation.

They won the first two first-round games on the road in 2011 against the Boston Bruins, in 2006 against the Carolina Hurricanes and in 1996 against the New York Rangers. The series against the Bruins is the only one of the three where the Canadiens even forced a Game 7, so history is not on their side.

It is a fact that is clearly not lost on Cooper.

"At some point they're going to have to do that in front of their fans, try and knock us out," Cooper said. "I'm sure they've never had a 2-0 lead on the road and come back and blown it."

Cooper would not confirm it, but goaltender Anders Lindback was the first Lightning goalie off the ice at the morning skate and should get the start after being pulled in Game 2.

"I'll just tell you now, and I said it in Tampa, there's no goaltending controversy," Cooper said. "I've never thought about it; to me that's never crossed my mind."

Here is the projected lineup the Lightning will use in Game 3, assuming Palat plays:

Alex KillornTyler JohnsonSteven Stamkos

Teddy PurcellValtteri FilppulaRyan Callahan

Ondrej PalatNate ThompsonRichard Panik

Nikita KucherovCedric PaquetteJ.T. Brown

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Radko GudasMatthew Carle

Eric BrewerMichael Kostka

Anders Lindback

Kristers Gudlevskis

Injured: Ben Bishop (upper body)

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Tom Pyatt, Ryan Malone, B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk, Andrej Sustr

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