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Lightning at Devils preview

Hughes can set New Jersey mark for 18-year-old; Hedman, Maroon out for Tampa Bay

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

LIGHTNING (5-4-2) AT DEVILS (2-5-2)

7 p.m. ET; MSG+, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

Jack Hughes can become the first 18-year-old in New Jersey Devils history to score a goal in three straight games when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center on Wednesday.

The center and No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft has five points (two goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak for the Devils, 2-1-0 in their past three games following a six-game winless streak (0-4-2).

Defenseman Will Butcher will return to the New Jersey lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury and goalie Cory Schneider will start for the first time since allowing six goals on 34 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Oct. 14.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (lower body) and forward Pat Maroon (upper body) each will not play after being injured in the first period of a 4-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Goalie Curtis McElhinney will start after Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves against the Rangers.

Tampa Bay is winless in two straight (0-1-1) and is 1-2-1 in its past four games.


Players to watch

Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has three points (one goal, two assists) in a three-game point streak and is two goals shy of 400 in the NHL.

Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past two games.


They said it

"Our group is lacking some confidence, but you only get that by winning games, making plays and feeling comfortable out there. I think we're being a little tentative and we've got too much speed, skill and will to not get out there and execute and trust each other." -- Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh

"I don't think I need to change anything but just put the puck in the back of the net. … I'm getting opportunities, so one's got to go in." -- Devils forward Wayne Simmonds, who has one assist in nine games this season


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson -- Steven Stamkos

Carter Verhaeghe -- Yanni Gourde -- Mathieu Joseph

Alexander Volkov -- Cedric Paquette -- Luke Witkowski

Luke Schenn -- Braydon Coburn

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Jan Rutta, Cory Conacher

Injured: Anthony Cirelli (lower body), Pat Maroon (upper body), Victor Hedman (lower body)


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Jack Hughes -- Kyle Palmieri

Blake Coleman -- Travis Zajac -- Wayne Simmonds

Pavel Zacha -- Nico Hischier -- Jesper Bratt

Miles Wood -- Kevin Rooney -- John Hayden

Damon Severson -- P.K. Subban

Andy Greene -- Sami Vatanen

Will Butcher -- Matt Tennyson

Cory Schneider

Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratched: Jesper Boqvist, Nikita Gusev, Mirco Mueller

Injured: Connor Carrick (right pinky finger)


Status report

Volkov, Conacher and Schenn each was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Volkov will make his NHL debut and Schenn will play for Hedman. ... Cirelli is a game-time decision.


Stat pack

Kucherov has three points (one goal, two assists) in a three-game point streak. ... Hischier has not scored a goal since Feb. 15 (22 games).

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