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Jets, Lightning try to bounce back from losses

Tampa Bay may be without Palat, Namestnikov

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

JETS (25-28-3) at LIGHTNING (30-22-4)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; TSN3, SUN, NHL.TV

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning could be without forwards Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov against the Winnipeg Jets at Amalie Arena on Thursday. 

Palat missed the morning skate with an illness that has hit several members of the team the past two weeks, including coach Jon Cooper, who missed the morning skate Tuesday.

 

"This is a tough time for our team," Cooper said. "This [illness] is just picking off guys one by one." 

While Palat will be a game-time decision it doesn't look as promising for Namestnikov. He remains hampered by an upper-body injury stemming from a hit by St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson on Feb. 14. 

"He's just very sore," Cooper said. "I don't think it's anything where we're sitting here thinking it's going to be long term. Hopefully we will see him this weekend." 

The Lightning, who have lost four of their past five games, will likely dress seven defensemen Thursday if Palat can't play. Defense has been an issue since defenseman Jason Garrison was injured against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 8. 

Tampa Bay gave up a goal on a breakaway and another on an odd-man rush in the 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. 

"We just need better effort," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Defense-first mentality because we've been giving up way too many scoring chances and it's costing us big time. We have to have guys that come up in support to make sure that little mistakes don't end up in the back of the net." 

Winnipeg is currently 3-2-0 during a stretch where the Jets are playing six of seven games on the road. The Jets lost 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. 

"In Carolina we didn't like the way we competed," defenseman Ben Chiarot said. "When we're good, we're a heavy, physical team that can play quick. So bringing that game every night is important. [The Lightning] are a skilled team and we have to make things hard on them." 

The Jets have scored 11 goals in their past five games. Coach Paul Maurice said he wants Winnipeg to have more of an edge coming off a loss and continue to work for better results. 

"We haven't scored an awful lot of goals here in our last stretch," Maurice said. "We getting some looks in the slot ... the frustrating part is when you're getting those shots and they are not going in for you and you're in 2-1 games." 

Ondrej Pavelec makes his 18th start of the season for Winnipeg. Andrei Vasilevskiy makes his 16th start of the season for the Lightning. 

Here are the projected lineups: 

JETS

Nikolaj Ehlers - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler  

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford  

Andrew Ladd - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia  

Alexander Burmistrov - Andrew Copp - Chris Thorburn  

Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien  

Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers  

Adam Pardy - Jacob Trouba  

Ondrej Pavelec 

Michael Hutchinson  

Injured: Mark Stuart (broken hand) 

Scratched: Paul Postma, Anthony Peluso  

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan  

Jonathan Marchessault - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov  

Cedric Paquette - Valtteri Filppula - J.T. Brown  

Erik Condra - Brian Boyle  

Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr  

Slater Koekkoek - Anton Stralman 

Nikita Nesterov - Braydon Coburn  

Matthew Carle  

Andrei Vasilevskiy 

Ben Bishop  

Injured: Ondrej Palat (illness), Vladislav Namestnikov (upper body), Jason Garrison (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand surgery) 

Scratched: None 

Status update: Ladd and Stafford were not at the Jets' optional skate but Maurice said both would play Thursday. ... If Palat can play the Lightning will either go with six defensemen and scratch Koekkoek or Carle or dress seven defensemen and scratch Condra. ... Byfuglien and Lowry participated in the morning skate after missing practice Wednesday. ... Carle is playing his fifth consecutive game after sitting the previous seven as a healthy scratch. 

Who's hot: Vasilevskiy has won six of his past seven starts. ...Wheeler scored in a 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

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