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Preview: Lightning at Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger could return to Chicago lineup; Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison questionable

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (21-22-5) AT BLACKHAWKS (30-14-5)

8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, SUN, NHL.TV


Lightning team scope

The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost three straight games (0-2-1) and are last in the Eastern Conference. They're also trying to fight off an illness that has spread among coaches and players. Defenseman Victor Hedman missed three games because of it, and returned in the Lightning's 5-3 loss at the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Now, defenseman Jason Garrison is questionable after sitting out against the Coyotes while sick. "We're on a two-week road trip, and not only have our players gotten it, our staff members have gotten it," coach Jon Cooper said after an optional morning skate at United Center. "If it's going to pluck off one player at a time, you just hope it's not going to take four or five at a time. Then I'm dressing." The Lightning are 1-2-1 through four games of their six-game road trip. Forward J.T. Brown (upper body) will be a game-time decision after going through his first full-contact practice Monday. Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in goal. 


Blackhawks team scope

The Chicago Blackhawks activated center Marcus Kruger from injured reserve Tuesday. He could be back in the lineup after missing 10 games because of a hand injury. He could replace center Dennis Rasmussen in the lineup. Rasmussen was the only player who didn't participate in the morning skate and will be a game-time decision because of an illness. If Kruger plays, he likely will center the fourth line and return to his role as the Blackhawks' top penalty-killing forward. They have killed 17 of 22 opposing power plays (77.3 percent) during his absence. "[Kruger] gives us so much reliability," coach Joel Quenneville said. "[He] helps you killing penalties, his line's usually effective in shutting down top lines or playing on defensive faceoffs and killing zone time. He's just one of those guys that defensively has a real good purpose to his game and we rely on him a lot in important defensive situations." Corey Crawford will start in net after he got his 200th NHL win in a 4-2 defeat of the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Jonathan Drouin

Brian Boyle -- Valtteri Filppula -- Joel Vermin

Michael Bournival -- Cedric Paquette -- Gabriel Dumont

Victor Hedman -- Anton Stralman

Nikita Nesterov -- Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn -- Jake Dotchin

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Luke Witkowski, Erik Condra

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


Blackhawks projected lineup

Ryan Hartman -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Vinnie Hinostroza -- Tanner Kero -- Marian Hossa

Andrew Desjardins -- Marcus Kruger -- Nick Schmaltz

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Jordin Tootoo

Injured: Dennis Rasmussen (illness)


Status report

Quenneville made it sound like the only way Kruger will play is if Rasmussen cannot. It's unclear whether both could play; if they did, Desjardins and Tootoo would be scratched. … Garrison participated in the optional skate. The Lightning dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Coyotes on Saturday, but it's unknown if they would use that lineup again. If they do, Vermin could be the forward to come out. He was scratched against the Coyotes.


Who's hot

Toews scored the game-winning goal against the Canucks on Sunday and set season highs with three assists and four points. Hossa has goals in the past two games, and has two goals and five points during a three-game point streak. … Palat has three goals and six points in the past six games. Filppula has one goal and five assists in the past seven games.

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