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Preview: Tampa Bay at Winnipeg

When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, October 23, 2015

Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman established himself as one of the team’s leaders during last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, and after missing one game with a concussion, Hedman looked just fine in his return Tuesday. The Lightning visit the Winnipeg Jets on Friday in a matchup of two of the top scoring teams in the NHL and will look for Hedman to make a big impact again after he recorded two assists in a shootout loss at Nashville.

Hedman missed 18 games early last season with a finger injury and took a hard shot into the boards Thursday against Dallas but only sat out Saturday’s contest versus Buffalo before raising his assist total to six with the pair against the Predators. Winnipeg opened its season with three victories in four road games, but after rallying late to win its home opener versus Calgary on Friday, it was flat in Sunday’s loss to visiting St. Louis. Blake Wheeler is tied for seventh in the NHL in scoring with eight points, having recorded at least one in each of the Jets’ first six contests.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), TSN3 (Winnipeg)

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (4-2-1): Tampa Bay has scored three or more goals in five of its seven games and is tied with Montreal for the league lead (23) while playing better on special teams of late. The Lightning have not allowed a power-play goal in the last two contests (six chances) after surrendering six in their previous three games. Steven Stamkos scored his fifth goal of the season against Nashville and Ben Bishop, who is tied for second in the league with four wins, has played every minute thus far.

ABOUT THE JETS (4-2-0): Winnipeg has allowed 41 or more shots three times in the last four games, but Michael Hutchinson has fronted a strong effort in net, ranking third in the league in goals-against average (1.00) and save percentage (.968). The Jets rank sixth in the NHL in scoring with 20 goals. Mathieu Perreault, who scored his first in Sunday’s loss, is tied with Bryan Little for second on the team in points (five) and even with Dustin Byfuglien for the club lead in penalty minutes (10).


1. Following four days off, the Jets will play 19 games in 37 days starting Friday – including nine against Central Division rivals.

2. The Lightning and Jets split their two meetings last season, with each team losing on home ice.

3. Both teams have excelled on the power play as Winnipeg ranks fifth in the NHL at 26.1 percent, two spots ahead of the Lightning at 23.8 percent.

PREDICTION: Jets 3, Lightning 2