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Paquette back in lineup; Namestnikov staying - for now

Lightning center Cedric Paquette will return to the lineup tonight, having missed six games with an upper body injury.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning center Cedric Paquette will return to the lineup tonight, having missed six games with an upper body injury.

Lightning center Cedric Paquette will return to the lineup tonight, having missed six games with an upper body injury.

"I'm ready to go," Paquette said. "Today is the day."

And, as of today, coach Jon Cooper said there are no plans to send C Vladislav Namestnikov, on an emergeny recall, back to AHL Syracuse, but that could change by Friday; Cooper hinted there might be another short-term injury among his forward group (possibly Brenden Morrow).

But first, Paquette coming back will be a big boost to the lineup, a gritty, hard to play against, key cog on penalty kill. After having the same upper body he had in February emerge earlier this month, Paquette said he took a few extra days to make sure he was 100 percent.

"I think this time of year, obviously you have to play a little bit banged up," Paquette said. "I try to be healthy enough to play, I waited a couple days to be fully healthy."

Namestnikov, 22, who has been on an emegency recall, played well enough to stick around, with Cooper saying it's hard to take him out of the lineup. But if Tampa Bay decides to keep him up, it'll be forced to use the third of four alotted post-deadline call-ups. The Lightning already has used two. …

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Paquette to return on road trip, Vasilevskiy starts tonight

Craig Paquette has missed five games with an upper body injury.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Craig Paquette has missed five games with an upper body injury.

It looks like C Cedric Paquette won't be returning on this homestand.

Paquette, who has missed five games with an upper body injury, continued to skate in a regular colored jersey this morning, but wasn't part of line rushes. Coach Jon Cooper said there's no update, but indicated Paquette would return on the upcoming five-game road trip, which begins Saturday in Detroit.

When Paquette comes back, it'll make for a tough decision for the Lightning. C Vladislav Namestnikov, on an emergency recall, has been playing really well. But in order for Namestnikov not to count towards the four alotted post-deadline call-ups, he'd have to get returned to AHL Syracuse when Paquette is ready. The Lightning could also keep Namestnikov up, giving them just one call-up remaining. Cooper said Sunday that Namestnikov is making his case to stick around.

"Healthy, we need to get healthy, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "Not even worried about who's in, who's out, it's about getting guys healthy, and then we can make that decision." …

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Ben Bishop named NHL's Third Star for last week

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week.

Bishop went 3-0 with a 2.00 goals against average and a .935 save percentage with big wins over the Canadiens, Red Wings and Bruins. A Vezina Trophy finalist last season, Bishop has been on the top of his game in recent weeks, winning eight of his last 10 starts.

Bishop is 36-11-4 with a 2.31 GAA, .916 save percentage and three shutouts in 55 games. He needs just one more victory to tie the club record he set last season.

Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and Senators center Kyle Turris were named the No. 1 and No. 2 stars.

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Ondrej Palat to return tonight against Red Wings

The Lightning's Ondrej Palat gets tangled up with the Canadiens' P.K. Subban as they battle for position during a March 10 game in Montreal.

[Getty Images]

The Lightning's Ondrej Palat gets tangled up with the Canadiens' P.K. Subban as they battle for position during a March 10 game in Montreal.

After feeling good in the morning skate, Lightning wing Ondrej Palat declared himself ready to return tonight against the Red Wings.

"100-percent," he said.

Palat, who missed the last three games with a lower body injury, will give a big boost to the lineup, especially the Triplets line of Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov.

"He makes that line work," coach Jon Cooper said. "So getting him back is big for us."

The Lightning is expecting a fired-up Red Wings team, considering Detroit enters having lost four of seven, including Thursday night in Sunrise. The Red Wings trail Tampa Bay by six points, though with two games in hand, for second place in the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning has beaten Detroit six of the last seven meetings, including both this season, 5-1 here Jan. 29.

"Obviously they're a good team, they're right at the top of the division," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They've got good speed, good tempo to the game. When you've got a good team, good depth, even when you have injuries, it's an opportunity for other people. Last time in here I thought we had a good game and our goalie couldn't get hit. So we've got to be a little better." …

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Ondrej Palat could return Friday against Red Wings

Ondrej Palat, expected to be out 2-3 weeks when injured last Tuesday against Montreal, could return Friday night when the Lightning hosts the Red Wings at Amalie.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ondrej Palat, expected to be out 2-3 weeks when injured last Tuesday against Montreal, could return Friday night when the Lightning hosts the Red Wings at Amalie.

Lightning wing Ondrej Palat appears ahead of schedule in his recovery from a lower-body injury, participating fully in Thursday's practice in a regular-colored jersey.

Palat, expected to be out 2-3 weeks when injured last Tuesday against Montreal, could return Friday night when the Lightning hosts the Red Wings at Amalie.

"Hopefully," coach Jon Cooper said. "There's tough players, and then there's Palat."

Cooper said they originally thought Palat would be back by Sunday's game against Boston, but he may be a few days early. Palat looked good in Thursday's practice, competing in all drills, skating on his Triplets line with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, while being on the second power play unit. Palat said he felt good, but will know for sure Friday if he can play.

Palat has 15 goals, 37 assists and is fifth in the league at a plus-28.

"He's a big key to the line, those three guys together have been unreal for us this year," Cooper said.  "He plays in every situation. He plays on the power play, he penalty kills. He's out there in the last minute whether we're up or down a goal. You look at the entirety, that's a pretty tough guy to lose." …

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NHL imposes no supplemental discipline for Nikita Kucherov hit

The Winnipeg Jets' Tobias Enstrom is attended to after being boarded by the Lightning's Nikita Kucherof in the third period of Saturday's game at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets' Tobias Enstrom is attended to after being boarded by the Lightning's Nikita Kucherof in the third period of Saturday's game at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov will not face supplemental discipline from the NHL for his hit on Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom in Saturday's game.

There wasn't even a hearing scheduled.

Kucherov was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct in the third period, when he hit Enstrom into the boards while chasing a puck deep in the Winnipeg zone. Enstrom got to the puck first to retrieve it, and appeared to back up as Kucherov delivered the hit.  Enstrom skated off the ice covering his bloody face with a towel.

 

Kucherov said he hadn't heard anything from the league, pointing out he had no malicious intent on the play.

"It was an awkward spot," Kucherov said. "I don't think I could have done something else there. It just happens. I didn't mean it, it was an accident." …

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Matt Carle officially returning tonight

TAMPA – Defenseman Matt Carle will be back in the lineup for the Lightning tonight.

Carle has missed the last two months while recovering from abdominal surgery.

Carle said the timing for his return isn’t perfect, because he didn’t want to sit out at all. But it’s not bad, either, considering the team will be without defenseman Braydon Coburn for the next four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.

“It’s good timing, in a sense,” Carle said. “I’m just going to try to come back, keep things simple and try to get back in the flow of things.”  

Carle said he doesn’t know how his body will react to a full game. His health is “good enough” to get back into real action.

“Obviously I’m pretty rested,” Carle said. “I haven’t played in two months. The guys have been going and grinding it out every other day pretty much, playing in games. In that sense, my legs are there. It’s just a matter of getting them back. When the playoffs go, I feel like I should be pretty fresh.”

A few other quick notes from today’s morning skate before the Lightning hosts the Jets tonight at Amalie Arena:

* Coach Jon Cooper seems to be settling on some new lines, after the injuries to Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat. …

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Lightning's Coburn out 4-6 weeks; Paquette and Palat out too

Veteran Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn out four to six weeks with a lower body injury.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Veteran Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn out four to six weeks with a lower body injury.

The Lightning's 1-0 win over the Canadiens Tuesday might have turned into one of it's biggest losses.

Three key players were hurt in that game, with veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn out four to six weeks with a lower body injury, forward Ondrej Palat (lower body) out two to three weeks, and Cedric Paquette (upper body) out 10-14 days. The good news is they are all expected to be back by the time playoffs start.

But it still comes at a bad time for the Lightning, which is playing its best hockey of the season and entered Thursday's game just one point behind first place Montreal in the Atlantic Division with one month before the playoffs. …

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Lightning recalls Mike Angelidis from Syracuse Crunch

The Lightning has recalled forward Mike Angelidis from AHL-Syracuse, the team announced Thursday morning.

The move comes two days after forwards Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat were injured in a win over Montreal. X-rays were fine on Palat, who took a shot off of his foot, but more information about Paquette’s injury wasn’t available Wednesday.

Angelidis is second on the Crunch with 17 goals and is fourth on the team with 33 points. He has one goal in seven career NHL games.

The Lightning plays at Boston tonight.

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Banged-up Lightning hopes to beat "Big, Bad Bruins"

The Lightning is coming off a big win, a 1-0 overtime victory over the first-place Canadiens in Montreal Tuesday.

But it was a costly one.

Forwards Ondrej Palat and Cedric Paquette, along with veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, were all injured in that game. None of them practiced Wednesday in Boston, and coach Jon Cooper was uncertain on their status for Thursday's game against the Bruins.

"I have no idea," Cooper said. "All three of them could play. All three of them couldn't. It's unfortunate. Because we don't know what to do."

Palat took a shot off his foot in the second period, with Cooper saying x-rays were okay. Paquette and Coburn's injuries were undisclosed. The good news for the Lightning is right wing J.T. Brown, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, is a possibility to return. Defenseman Matt Carle (abdominal surgery) won't play Thursday but could return Saturday.

Got all that? It'll make for interesting decisions whether Tampa Bay has to make a call-up from AHL Syracuse (Jonathan Marchessault, Carter Ashton, Tanner Richard?). …

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Matt Carle will have to play through soreness if he returns

Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle continued to ramp up his rehab from January abdominal surgery, participating in battle drills after Tuesday's practice at the Bell Centre.

Getty Images

Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle continued to ramp up his rehab from January abdominal surgery, participating in battle drills after Tuesday's practice at the Bell Centre.

Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle continued to ramp up his rehab from January abdominal surgery, participating in battle drills after Tuesday's practice at the Bell Centre.

But Carle said there's "nothing new" to report, unable to say for certain if he'll return to the lineup Thursday in Boston or this weekend.

A key will be how Carle is able to handle soreness he's experiencing, realizing it's something he'll be dealing with for a while.

"It's been there for some time, I'm coming to the realization that's probably going to be the case for a while,' Carle said. "I'ts just being comfortable with it, and knowing how it's going to react in certain situations and being okay with it. When I first started skating, those kind of things made me really nervous. Now that it's been there for a while, it's something I'm used to." …

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Andrej Sustr making strides; Brown still out

When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman addressed the media Monday following his acquisition of veteran D Braydon Coburn, one of the first things he mentioned was how pleased he's been with the development of D Andrej Sustr.

Sustr, 24, is in his first full NHL season as a regular, having surpassed the 100-game total last month. Thrust into more minutes, and a larger role, with injuries to D Radko Gudas and D Matt Carle, Sustr said it's made him more comfortable.

"I've learned how to read the game a little bit better," Sustr said. "Everything is coming second nature as opposed to at the start of the season."

Take Thursday's 4-2 win over Toronto. Sustr set up the game-winning goal with a heads-up play, patiently putting a nice back-door pass/shot that deflected in off the skate of C Vladislav Namestnikov.

"A great indication of not rushing plays," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's got his head up when he shoots, head up when he's passing. As he progresses and gets more comfortable, more experience, these things are coming out. You knew he had it in him. But until you're really there, you don't know how much time you really have." …

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Namestnikov could stay through Saturday, Carle return next week?

Lightning rookie Vladislav Namestnikov certainly didn't look like someone close to getting sent back to AHL Syracuse, practicing with the third line Friday afternoon.

And it appears Namestnikov, 22, on an emergency recall with J.T. Brown (upper body injury) might at least stay through Saturday's game against the Stars at Amalie Arena. Brown, who suffered the injury Tuesday, continued to participate in practice, but admits he's still limited a bit and wants to return when he's able to play his style of game.

Coach Jon Cooper said Brown could sit out Saturday and return as early as Tuesday. If the Lightning returns Namestnikov to the AHL when Brown can play, it won't burn one of its four available post-deadline call-ups.

"We want Brownie in our lineup, he's a big part of our team," Cooper said. "But if he's not 100-percent, you don't want to risk further injury. So we'll re-evaluate him (Saturday). Brownie wants to play as well. But if the body's not letting him, the body's not letting him." …

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Namestnikov gets "big opportunity," Brown day-to-day

Lightning rookie center Vladislav Namestnikov wasn't expecting Wednesday's call-up, brought in on an emergency basis to fill in for injured J.T. Brown.

But whether Namestnikov, 22, is here for just Thursday's game, or longer, he's excited for another shot.

"It's a big opportunity for me," Namestnikov said. "Just have to come up here and play my game. It's nice to be here for sure."

Namestnikov's presence was necessitated by Brown's upper-body injury, suffered in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Sabres. Brown still practiced Wednesday and participated in Thursday's optional skate, so he could return soon.

It was a bad break for Brown, who had a regular spot in the lineup opened up with Monday's trade of right wing Brett Connolly.

"He's banged up," coach Jon Cooper said. "Nothing long-term, serious, but he's out (Thursday)." …

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Follow our ScribbleLive for Lightning-Maple Leafs tonight

After some success last week, the Times will be adding to our Lightning coverage tonight by doing a ScribbleLive stream for the Tampa Bay-Toronto game at Amalie Arena.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., we'll be bringing you tweets, photos from our Dirk Shadd (@dirkshadd), analysis from the game, with videos and reaction post-game.

Follow us here at the link below, and feel free to use the comment section to become part of the ScribbleLive yourself! As always, I'll be on Twitter @TBTimes_JSmith too.

http://live.tampabay.com/Event/Copy_of_LIVE_Newsfeed_Tampa_Bay_Lightning_vs_Toronto_Maple_Leafs​

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