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Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018
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Ryan McDonagh not ready yet as Lightning faces Panthers

Ryan McDonagh (upper body) targeted tonight's game against the Panthers for his debut with the Lightning. That won't happen.

McDonagh skated this morning wearing a red no-contact jersey, something he didn't wear last week when he joined the Lightning after his trade Feb. 26 from the Rangers.

Coach Jon Cooper said it is unlikely McDonagh will play Thursday against the Rangers or Saturday against the Canadiens.

"I'd say next week, then we're looking pretty confident," Cooper said after the morning skate.

F Ondrej Palat (lower body) also skated this morning while wearing a red no-contact jersey. Cooper said Palat, who will miss his 21st game tonight, is not ready to be listed as day-to-day.

When asked if the goal is getting those two back in time for the playoffs, Cooper said, "They key is get him back when he's healthy. Until they're healthy, they can't come back."

As for tonight, the Lightning (45-17-4) plays host to the white-hot Panthers (32-25-6).

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The Panthers enter Amalie Arena winners of their past six and nine of their past 11. With 70 points, they trail the Blue Jackets by one point for the final wild-card spot.

"We're up against a really hot team that is clearly trying to make a push to make the playoffs," Cooper said. "(Panthers coach Bob Boughner) has got them really rolling, you can see they're having fun. They're doing all the things they need to win games. They're beating good teams. This will be a really good test tonight."

The Lightning has played a franchise-record five straight overtime games, going 4-0-1 in that stretch.

This the last regular season meeting between the two Florida teams. It's possible both could meet in the first round of the playoffs if the Lighting holds on to the top spot in the conference and the Panthers pick up the last wild-card berth.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, 11-3-1 in his last 15 starts, starts tonight.

The Lightning forward lines during the skate:





The defensive pairings were:




Looks like C Cedric Paquette, D Jake Dotchin, D Slater Koekkoek will be the scratches.

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Ryan McDonagh not ready yet as Lightning faces Panthers