Vancouver at Tampa Bay
When: 7:30 PM
ET, Thursday, December 8, 2016
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
The Tampa Bay Lightning expect to be a healthier team when they host the similarly injury-ravaged Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) missed Tampa Bay’s 1-0 overtime loss at Carolina on Sunday, Jason Garrison (lower-body) sat out the last two and Ryan Callahan (lower-body) missed the past four, but all three practiced Wednesday and could return to the lineup.
The Lightning recorded points in the last two contests (1-0-1) after a season-high four-game losing streak, although they managed only one goal in more than 126 minutes – that coming from leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (29 points). The Canucks, who were already down two regular defensemen, lost blue liner Philip Larsen indefinitely during the 3-2 loss at New Jersey on Tuesday when he was run over by Taylor Hall and had to be taken off on a stretcher. The defeat opened a five-game trip for Vancouver, which went 5-2-1 in its previous eight contests to climb back into the playoff race. Daniel Sedin scored in back-to-back games and twin brother Henrik Sedin boasts five points (two goals) in the last four contests for the Canucks.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Vancouver, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (11-13-2): The Sedin brothers share the team lead with 17 points after their recent hot streaks - one better than fellow forward Bo Horvat, who has been kept off the scoresheet the last three games. The Canucks announced Larsen was released from the hospital Wednesday and cleared to return to Vancouver where he joins defensemen Chris Tanev (ankle) and Alexander Edler (fractured finger) on the sideline. Goalie Jacob Markstrom got the start in New Jersey and Ryan Miller is expected back in net where he is 20-10-0 all time versus Tampa Bay.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (14-11-2): Coach Jon Cooper shuffled his lines again in practice Wednesday, putting Kucherov (13 goals) with center Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn while moving Joel Vermin to the line with center Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. The Lightning sent forward Michael Bournival and defenseman Luke Witkowski back to Syracuse of the American Hockey League with their improved health. Goalie Ben Bishop has picked up his play in his last three outings -- allowing one goal in each contest to raise his save percentage to .910.
1. The Lightning are 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings, but the Canucks won 2-1 in Tampa Bay last season.
2. Vancouver LW Loui Eriksson owns six goals in the last 13 games after being shut out in the first 13 contests of the season.
3. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman has six of his 19 points in the last eight games and matched a season high with five shots Sunday.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Canucks 2
Stats and Records