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Lightning to raise Stanley Cup banner on Saturday night

The banner will go into the Amalie Arena rafters as the team welcomes the general public for the first time this season.
Lightning players watch as the Stanley Cup championship banner is unveiled before the home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in January at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Lightning players watch as the Stanley Cup championship banner is unveiled before the home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in January at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 8
Updated Mar. 8

TAMPA — The Lightning will raise their 2019-20 Stanley Cup champions banner into the rafters of Amalie Arena before Saturday’s home game against the Nashville Predators, the first game the general public will be permitted to attend this season.

The Lightning will welcome 3,800 fans back to the arena for the game, the first of 18 remaining home games that are slated to have limited-capacity crowds. Last month, the team began allowing about 500 select family and friends for a soft reopening of the arena.

The team unveiled the banner on opening night on Jan. 13 but decided to wait until fans had returned to the building to lift it into the rafters. It’s been hanging above the arena’s northwest tunnel just above the boards.

The banner will be the Lightning’s 12th raised to the arena’s rafters. The others include the team’s 2003-04 division, conference and Stanley Cup titles; the 2018-19 Presidents’ Trophy; 2019-20 conference championship; and two retired numbers: 26 (Marty St. Louis) and 4 (Vinny Lecavalier).

Fans can watch the pregame ceremony during the game broadcast on Fox Sports Sun.

Cernak, Rutta healing, ‘hopeful’ for Tuesday

A day after taking a hit to the head, Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak returned to the ice on Monday. Coach Jon Cooper said he’s hopeful Cernak will play in Tampa Bay’s next game Tuesday in Detroit.

Both Cernak and defenseman Jan Rutta, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, were full participants at practice.

“Cernak is probably a little ahead of (Rutta),” Cooper said. “But we’re hopeful. That’s probably the best I can say.”

Midway through the second period of Sunday’s 6-3 win in Chicago, Cernak was hit in the head by a shoulder from Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy, who was assessed a match penalty and ejected from the game.

Lightning promote two from AHL

The Lightning recalled forward Taylor Raddysh and goaltender Spencer Martin from its AHL affiliate in Syracuse on Monday to join their taxi squad. Forward Gemel Smith and goaltender Christopher Gibson were sent back to the Crunch.

Raddysh has two goals and five points in nine games with the Crunch this season. Martin is 2-2-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in four games.

The move will allow Smith, who had three assists in four games but was on the taxi squad for seven of the past eight contests, and Gibson more opportunity to play.

“When you bring guys up here, our goal is to get guys in,” Cooper said. “It’s just, at times we’re kind of handcuffed a bit about what we can do depending on injuries.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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