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Preview: Lightning at Coyotes

Victor Hedman could return for Tampa Bay; Christian Fischer to make NHL debut with Arizona

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (21-21-5) at COYOTES (13-26-6)


Lightning team scope

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who leads the team with 31 assists, could play after missing three games because of an illness. He took part in a full practice on Friday. Offense continues to be a problem for the Lightning (2-6-1 in their past nine games) who have five goals in the past four games. The Lightning are 1-5-2 in their past eight road games and have three points (1-1-1) after the first three games of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Forward J.T. Brown (upper body) is also close to returning to the lineup. Ben Bishop could start after backup Andrei Vasilevskiy started in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Coyotes team scope

The Arizona Coyotes, who begin a five-game homestand, have lost four straight and have won twice in the past 15 games (2-12-1). Forward Christian Fischer will be the seventh player make his NHL debut this season with the Coyotes. "This is a dream you have for your whole life and it's pretty cool to make it a reality," he said. "It's a long-time coming, a lot of hard work. I couldn't be more excited." Fischer, the No. 32 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, had 16 goals and 16 assists in 31 games with Tucson of the American Hockey League despite missing time with a broken thumb. "He's a young player who had a pretty good training camp and then went down to Tucson and earned his chance to play here," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a thick guy who plays a heavy game and I'm interested to see what he can do." Center Martin Hanzal will return to the lineup after missing two games for personal reasons. Mike Smith, who allowed six goals before being replaced in a 6-3 loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, will be in goal against his former team.

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Joel Vermin

Brian Boyle -- Valtteri Filppula -- Jonathan Drouin

Michael Bournival -- Cedric Paquette -- Gabriel Dumont

Nikita Nesterov -- Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison -- Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn -- Luke Witkowski

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Erik Condra, Jake Dotchin

Injured: J.T. Brown (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Victor Hedman (illness), Brayden Point (upper body). Steven Stamkos (knee)


Coyotes projected lineup

Tobias Rieder -- Martin Hanzal -- Radim Vrbata

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Shane Doan

Jamie McGinn -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Christian Fischer

Jordan Martinook -- Peter Holland -- Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Luke Schenn

Alex Goligoski -- Michael Stone

Jakob Chychrun -- Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Kevin Connuaton, Lawson Crouse, Josh Jooris

Injured: Max Domi (upper body), Brad Richardson (broken leg)

Status report

Palat, Johnson and Kucerov skated together on Friday and are expected to be reunited. ... Fischer will play with McGinn and Holland, and Hanzal will be with Rieder and Vrbata. ... The Tampa Tribune reported defenseman Erik Condra was placed on waivers. If he clears, he would return to Syracuse of the AHL.

Who's hot

Cychrun has scored in back-to-back games and has a chance to be the first rookie defenseman in Coyotes history to score in three straight games. ... Perlini has three goals in his past five games. ... Drouin has three goals and four assists in the past seven games.

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