Tampa Bay Lightning (20-10-3) at New Jersey Devils (11-16-6), 7 p.m. (ET)

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Tampa Bay Lightning turned to a 20-year-old rookie
in net to avoid starting their road trip with three straight losses.

The Lightning now look to even up their record on this swing Friday night as
they visit the struggling New Jersey Devils.

Tampa Bay began a five-game trip with losses in Washington and Pittsburgh. The
Bolts also saw starting netminder Ben Bishop exit Monday’s loss to the
Penguins with a lower-body injury, causing backup Evgeni Nabokov to play just
over 37 minutes of relief.

With the Lightning back in action the next night, they opted to recall 20-
year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy from Syracuse of the American Hockey League and
Jon Cooper quickly gave him his first career start that night versus the
Philadelphia Flyers.

It was a successful debut for Vasilevskiy, the 19th overall pick of the 2012
draft, as he made 23 saves in a 3-1 victory.

“It was one of those things coming in. We’ve been going through a little bit
of a tough stretch here,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “We played him
because he’s a talented kid, but we thought he might be able to give us a
spark and clearly he did.”

Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Valtteri Filppula lit the lamp for the
Bolts, while Ryan Callahan added two assists. The win has Tampa Bay a point
ahead of both Detroit and Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Though Bishop’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, it appears unlikely he
will play tonight or in Saturday’s finale of this road trip versus the New
York Islanders. Cooper could decide to give both Vasilevskiy and Nabokov a
start over the two-day span, though it is unknown who will go versus the
Devils.

Nabokov is 6-11-0 with a 3.03 goals against average and .887 save percentage
in 17 career meetings with the Devils.

Forward Ondrej Palat and defenseman Radko Gudas could both be back in the
lineup tonight for the Lightning as well. Palat has missed four straight due
to a lower-body injury, while a stomach virus has held Gudas out of the past
three games.

However, Johnson was unable to practice on Thursday due to illness, perhaps
the only thing that can slow him down right now. He has 12 points in his last
11 games with 10 goals and 33 points in 33 games this season.

The Devils hope to get their offense going tonight as they have lost a season
high-tying five in a row (0-3-2) and were shut out for the third time in 12
games with Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The Devils outshot the Sens 34-16, but Cory Schneider made just 14 saves and
Ottawa’s Craig Anderson posted his third shutout of the season.

“I don’t think we played a bad game,” Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas said. “We
dominated the entire game. I think we played well. They got an early power-
play goal and that was the game-winner right there. It’s just a matter of
scoring.”

The Devils suffered a loss in the opener of a four-game homestand, one that
resumes on Saturday versus Washington. Schneider and Keith Kinkaid could split
the two starts.

Schneider is 2-0-1 with a 3.23 GAA and .877 save percentage in three outings
versus the Bolts, while Kinkaid made his NHL debut and lone appearance of last
season versus Tampa Bay on March 5. He gave up a goal on 13 shots in 26
minutes of relief.

Though New Jersey saw forward Patrik Elias return on Wednesday from a groin
injury that forced him to miss the previous five games, the Devils announced
on Thursday that rookie defenseman Damon Severson is expected to be out 4-to-5
weeks with a hairline fracture in his ankle.

Severson was a last-minute scratch versus the Senators and has 12 points in 32
games.

However, the Devils may get Adam Larsson back into the lineup. The blueliner
has not played since Dec. 2 due to the mumps, but is over the illness.

New Jersey won the first of three meetings with Tampa Bay this season, picking
up a 2-1 road win on Oct. 14. It was the Devils’ third victory in the past
four meetings.

Schneider made 26 saves, while Nabokov posted 23 stops in his Lightning debut.

The Devils have won 11 of their last 14 at home versus the Bolts.