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[December 22, 2016]
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue
adding players to their injury list, but are beginning to register a
few points as well with a pair of victories and a shootout loss in
the last four games. The Lightning look to keep their momentum going
through the Christmas break when they start Andrei Vasilevskiy in
goal against the visiting St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Tampa Bay forwards Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan
are all questionable for Thursday with various ailments while goalie
Ben Bishop suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory
over Detroit and is reportedly out 3-to-4 weeks. The Lightning still
produced one of their better efforts in a long time to register a
third victory in 12 games and coach Jon Cooper told reporters: “We
had to play with desperation. I thought we did that.” St. Louis is
also coming off what coach Ken Hitchcock called “a gutty win,” as
the Blues edged Dallas 3-2 in overtime on David Perron’s goal.
Leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko scored a hat trick in a 5-4
victory over Tampa Bay on Dec. 1 to start a month in which the
talented Russian boasts six goals and 15 points in 11 games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE BLUES (18-11-5): St. Louis is expected to get captain Alex
Pietrangelo (17 points) back in the lineup after the defenseman sat
out Tuesday’s victory because of illness, but center Paul Stastny is
doubtful with an upper-body injury. Tarasenko leads the team with 16
goals and 38 points while defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk owns 23
points and Jaden Schwartz has 21 after notching a tally and an
assist against Dallas. Center Patrik Berglund posted four goals,
including one Tuesday, in the last four games after managing only
one in the first 30 contests of the season.
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ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (16-14-3): Vasilevskiy (7-4-1, .923 save
percentage) had been winless this month until turning aside 22-of-23
shots in relief of Bishop on Tuesday and the 22-year-old will be
backed up by Kristers Gudlevskis, who was recalled Wednesday. Speedy
forward Jonathan Drouin remained hot with a goal and an assist
against Detroit, pushing his total to 10 points (five goals) in the
last eight games. Tampa Bay was 2-for-6 with the man advantage
Tuesday and killed all five power plays after extinguishing only
9-of-17 in the previous four contests.
1. The Blues won six consecutive meetings, including a 2-1 victory
at Tampa Bay last season.
2. Perron snapped a 10-game goal drought with his overtime winner
Tuesday, but is still fifth on the team with 18 points.
3. The Lightning have at least one power-play goal in five straight
games (6-for-21) and sat third in the league (23.3 percent) entering
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Blues 3
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