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Saad returns to lineup for Blue Jackets

Forward missed three games with injury; Lightning look to end losing streak

by Joe Calabrese @JoeCalabreseNHL / Staff Writer

LIGHTNING (39-24-5) at BLUE JACKETS (28-32-8)

TV: 3 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-O, NHL.TV

Season series: The Tampa Bay Lightning have defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets twice this season. Bryan Boyle scored the game-winner at 6:13 of the third period in a 2-1 win on Dec. 14, and captain Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win on Dec. 26.

Lightning team scope: Tampa Bay starts a four-game road trip looking to avoid a fourth straight loss (0-2-1) after a franchise-record nine-game winning streak. The Lightning lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday and are three points behind the Boston Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division after the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 on Saturday. "We're playing like we're a comfortable team that's in the playoffs, and if we're going to play like that, we won't make it," coach Jon Cooper told the team website. "That's it. That's how we're playing." Goalie Ben Bishop made 19 saves Friday and is expected to start despite losing consecutive games. Tampa Bay recalled forward Mike Blunden from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Saturday.

Blue Jackets team scope: Forward Brandon Saad will return after missing three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Saad, who leads the Blue Jackets with 24 goals, took part in an optional morning skate Friday but was scratched before the 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins; he practiced Saturday. "I felt good," Saad told the Columbus Dispatch. "I skated a little bit yesterday, but getting out there today in a full practice, I got the pace up and got around and saw some pucks. It was good. That was a real test." Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will start. Bobrovsky returned from a groin injury Friday and made 31 saves after missing 19 games. Forward David Clarkson (undisclosed) didn't practice and is day-to-day. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin didn't practice but is expected to play.

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