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Jets-Lightning Preview

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The growing list of injuries for the Tampa Bay Lightning includes one of the league's most dynamic goal scorers, but they still have Martin St. Louis in the fold.

He'll look to help Tampa Bay win for the ninth time in 10 home games Saturday night as it faces the Winnipeg Jets, who conclude a six-game road trip.

Steven Stamkos was tied for the NHL lead with 14 goals when he suffered a broken leg Nov. 11, and he's since been joined by Ryan Malone (broken ankle), Eric Brewer (lower-body injury) and Radko Gudas (upper body) with various ailments.

Keith Aulie suffered a broken hand in Thursday's 3-1 victory over Ottawa and will miss extended time after surgery, and fellow defenseman Victor Hedman left in the first period with a lower-body injury.

"They're going to call us the Syracuse Lightning pretty soon," coach Jon Cooper said in reference to the team's AHL affiliate. "It's emotional and physically taxing. You're playing with unfamiliar guys all the time and it's tough to get synergy and chemistry going."

Cooper said Hedman isn't likely to play Saturday.

''I don't know when he's coming back,'' Cooper said. ''He's more a day to day. We'll see what happens, but I don't expect him back for Winnipeg.''

St. Louis came up big Thursday for the short-handed Lightning (17-10-1), scoring twice while playing on a line with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. Palat assisted on both St. Louis goals, with Johnson earning an assist on the second.

"Those guys play pretty fast and we need to try and build off this," St. Louis said. "It's different playing with them on the ice, but it was a good first game."

Palat agreed.

"The chemistry is going to take some time," Palat added. "We had a big win and now we just need to build our swag up."

Tampa Bay now faces a Winnipeg team coming off a 5-2 loss to Florida on Thursday. Captain Andrew Ladd and Olli Jokinen scored for the Jets (13-13-4), who are hoping to finish their trip on a high note.

"We want to finish up 4-2. Looking at it right now, 3-3 would be a pretty big disappointment," Ladd said. "We were (ticked off) about (Thursday's game) and we'll go from there."

Bryan Little is the only Jet in double digits with 12 goals, but he hasn't scored in his last seven.

''We didn't have very many good players (Thursday),'' coach Claude Noel said. "We had a hard time getting guys engaged in the game.''

Evander Kane missed his second straight contest with a lower-body injury, and Noel doesn't think Kane will be able to go Saturday.

"He's a little ways away by the looks of things," Noel said. "It'll be a game-time decision, but I'm not quite sure he's there yet."

Michael Frolik sat out the last contest with the flu, but he is on track to play against the Lightning.

"Frolik is better, got some fluids back in him and is eating," Noel said. "He looks like he's a player for (Saturday)."

Winnipeg has won three straight meetings, including a 4-3 victory April 16 as Ladd had two goals and an assist and Ondrej Pavelec finished with 24 saves.

Pavelec could be in net for this contest while opposing Ben Bishop, who is 2-2-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average over his last five starts for Tampa Bay.

Tagged: Lightning, Jets, Martin St. Louis, Andrew Ladd, Ondrej Pavelec, Victor Hedman

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