For Cedric Paquette, the wait may finally be over.
Paquette said there's a good chance he returns to the Lightning lineup tonight against the Blackhawks at Amalie Arena (7:30 p.m., NBCSN). Paquette had missed the last 13 games with an undisclosed injury.
"I can't wait to be back, " Paquette said. "I want to be back to myself on the ice."
Paquette felt he was playing his best hockey in three years at the start of this season, when the gritty forward was a staple on the fourth line.
"He's a guy that adds a lot of sandpaper, a lot of grit, a lot of tenacity" captain Steven Stamkos said. "He's a big part of this team."
With Paquette likely returning, Tampa Bay appears to be heading back to a 12 forward, six defensemen lineup. D Jake Dotchin (undisclosed) is out tonight, with D Andrej Sustr in for him (Slater Koekkoek the only scratch).
Expect Sustr to start the game with Victor Hedman, replacing the right-shot in Dotchin. But would imagine D Anton Stralman gets his share of shifts with his fellow Swede (Hedman).
DUMONT LOST: With Paquette coming back, the Lightning tried to sneak C Gabriel Dumont through waivers on Tuesday, hoping he'd add some valuable grit and experience to AHL Syracuse. But Dumont was claimed Wednesday by the Senators, which shouldn't come as a surprise since Ottawa coach Guy Boucher has loved Dumont since his days coaching him in juniors. It's a loss for both the Lightning and the Crunch, which could have used Dumont.
NUTS AND BOLTS: G Andrei Vasilevskiy will start for the Lightning… The Lightning hasn't lost back-to-back games this season and hopes to continue that streak tonight after Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Islanders, which snapped a five-game win streak. "When things are going well, sometimes you forget how hard you worked to have that streak," Stamkos said. "We saw the video of the last game, and it definitely wasn't the standard we set in the previous five."