PREDATORS (25-21-8) at LIGHTNING (29-20-4)
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS-TN, SUN, NHL.TV
TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators both will be looking for a much-needed win in their game at Amalie Arena on Friday.
The good news for both teams is this game will be strength on strength. Tampa Bay has won eight straight at Amalie Arena and Nashville has won their past four games on the road.
"We've had some success on the road from our last trip," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've got two tough games this weekend. Both teams are tough at home and playing well."
The Lightning struggled in their two-game road trip through eastern Canada with a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators and a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens that dropped Tampa Bay from second place in the Atlantic Division to the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Lightning also lost defensive Jason Garrison, who will miss about a month with a lower-body injury. Tampa Bay, which already was in the trade market for a defenseman with a right-handed shot, called up Slater Koekkoek from Syracuse of the American Hockey League to fill the roster spot.
"We have had injuries before in the back end," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You're not going to make up for the loss of Garrison, but Slater's here for a reason and he's been playing well in Syracuse. We didn't bring him up here to sit on the bench."
Nashville stumbled coming out of the All-star break, going 1-3-0 during a four-game homestand and giving up 13 goals in the final three games.
The Predators hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Minnesota Wild.
Predators forward Ryan Johansen said the team needs to shake off the rough homestand and try to recover in the back-to-back games against the Lightning and Florida Panthers. He said to expect playoff-type intensity from Tampa Bay on Friday.
"We expect them to play desperate because they want to win," Johansen said. "It's going to be the type of game you would expect in the playoffs because both teams are fighting. We need to get some points in these buildings."
Cooper said the tight standings in both conferences gives each team a sense of urgency.
"You have to be aware you can't leave points on the table," Cooper said. "There are a bunch of teams nipping at your heels. There's no time to get comfortable."
The Predators will start Pekka Rinne in goal. He is 5-0-0 in his career against the Lightning. Ben Bishop will be making his 41st start in goal this season for Tampa Bay.
Here are the projected lineups:
Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson
Mikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass
Roman Josi- Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Barret Jackman - Anthony Bitetto
Injured: Eric Nystrom (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)
Scratched: Petter Granberg, Austin Watson
Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Jonathan Marchessault
Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
Nikita Nesterov - Matthew Carle
Injured: Jason Garrison (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand)
Scratched: Slater Koekkoek, Erik Condra
Status Report: Callahan will play his 600th NHL game Friday. Cooper said it's impressive to play as many games as Callahan has with his style of play. ...Cooper wasn't committal to his lineup Friday and said if Koekkoek doesn't play Friday, he will soon. ...Watson has been scratched the past two games but could get in the lineup this weekend. ... Palat (body maintenance) and Filppula (flu) missed practice Thursday but are expected to play Friday. ... The Lightning recalled goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis from Syracuse and sent down Vasilewskiy. Cooper said the team wanted Vasilevskiy to get some games in over the new few weeks.
Who's Hot: Forsberg scored two goals in a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. ... Hedman had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.