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Lightning at Stars preview

Kucherov questionable for Tampa Bay; Bishop to start against former team for Dallas

by Jeff Miller / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (43-17-4) at STARS (36-23-4)

8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is questionable and may miss his second game with an upper-body injury when the Lightning visit the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

Kucherov, the NHL's leading scorer with 82 points (33 goals, 49 assists) in 63 games, missed Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday and took part in the morning skate Thursday.

The Lightning, 4-0-1 in their past 5 games and 12-5-1 in their past 18, have the best record in the NHL and hold a five-point lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the Atlantic Division.

The Stars, 3-4-0 in their past seven games following a five-game winning streak, hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup playoffs from the Western Conference, with a two-point lead on the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. Dallas trails the Minnesota Wild by three points for third place in the Central Division.


Players to watch

Lightning forward J.T. Miller made his Tampa Bay debut Wednesday after being acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on Monday. He played 17:40, took no shots, had four hits and won five of eight face-offs.

Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, who played with Tampa Bay for five seasons, looks for his second consecutive shutout; he made 38 saves in a 2-0 win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.


They said it

"I definitely felt the airplane legs in the third period. But you've got to come to play. -- Lightning forward J.T. Miller on his Tampa Bay debut Wednesday

"They manage the game so well. They've got such a high-level hockey IQ that, if you don't control the middle of the ice offensively and defensively, then you're going to have a tough time." -- Stars coach Ken Hitchcock on the Lightning


Lightning projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Steven Stamkos -- Ryan Callahan

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- Alex Killorn

Adam Erne -- Tyler Johnson -- J.T. Miller

Michael Bournival -- Cedric Paquette -- Cory Conacher

Victor Hedman -- Anton Stralman

Mikhail Sergachev -- Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Louis Domingue

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin

Injured: Nikita Kucherov (upper body), Ondrej Palat (lower body), Ryan McDonagh (upper body), Peter Budaj (lower body)


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Alexander Radulov

Devin Shore -- Mattias Janmark -- Jason Spezza

Antoine Roussel -- Radek Faksa -- Tyler Pitlick

Remi Elie -- Jason Dickinson -- Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Greg Pateryn

Marc Methot -- Stephen Johns

Ben Bishop

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Gemel Smith, Julius Honka

Injured: Martin Hanzal (upper body)


Status report

Domingue is expected to make his sixth start for the Lightning. … The Stars will reunite their top line of Benn, Seguin and Radulov, return Spezza to the second line and use Dickinson on the fourth line. 


Stat pack

Gourde, named the NHL Rookie of the Month for February on Thursday, has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 14 games. … Benn has one goal in his past 14 games.

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