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Johnson and Paquette 'doubtful' for this weekend



The Lightning had hoped C Tyler Johnson and C Cedric Paquette could return during these back-to-back games over the weekend.

But with their recoveries from injuries taking longer than expected, both are doubtful to return against the Sharks or Kings.

"Disappointing," coach Jon Cooper said.

Johnson has skated a couple times this week as he battles back from an undisclosed injury suffered on the first shift of Nov. 27 game against the Capitals. Paquette (upper body) hasn't played since Nov. 14 against the Panthers.

"When they come back, they're not coming back 75-80 percent, they've got to come back 100 percent," Cooper said. "We can't have all these injuries recurring all the time. Can't have that. So we hope we get home and these guys take a few more strides forward and be able to play against Ottawa (on Thursday)."

LW Ondrej Palat (left ankle) continues to progress, having already missed four weeks of his scheduled 4-5 week timetable. It appears Palat could return sometime this week.

MARCHING ON: C Jonathan Marchessault might have literally played his way onto the Lightning roster.

When Marchessault appears in his 10th game tonight, it'll make him waiver-eligible, meaning he'd have to clear if the Lightning tries to send him back to AHL Syracuse.

Marchessault has been impressive in filling in while Paquette, Johnson and LW Jonathan Drouin were hurt, with two goals (not including a shootout goal). Marchessault was admittedly surprised to get put on the power play. It'd be hard to envision him not getting picked up by another team if

Marchessault is reassigned when Johnson, Palat and Paquette are back. Marchessault could stay if Tampa Bay keeps 14 forwards.

"I just go with the flow and it's going to be their decision at the end," Marchessault said. "We'll see what's going to happen, I'm just happy to be here and like any player, you're in the NHL, so you're happy. You try to come here and make them do a hard decision. Hopefully I can stay."

LEANING RIGHT: After spending most of this season at his natural center spot, C Steven Stamkos has been playing right wing the last couple. Like during the playoffs, C Valtteri Filppula has centered Stamkos, with LW Alex Killorn on the left. After two assists and five shots against the Islanders, Stamkos was held to one shot Wednesday in Anaheim.

"It was okay," Stamkos said of wing. "I thought the Islanders game was really good, last game had not as much space out there. It's different. I've done it before, it's nothing new to me, but soemtimes it takes a few games to adjust. There are definitely a lot of differences. You get caught standing still a lot more, having to generate speed, so that's something to focus on."

LINING UP: It's uncertain who will start in net tonight, but Cooper said G Ben Bishop and G ANdrei Vasilevskiy will split the back-to-back games tonight and Sunday.

[Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2015 6:41pm]


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