Lightning’s Filppula, Palat expected to return for Game 1

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Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop won’t play in Game 1 against Montreal tonight (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC), but the good news is that Valtteri Filppula (lower body) and Ondrej Palat (upper body) should be available, according to the team’s website.

It will be Palat’s playoff debut after he scored 23 goals and 59 points in 81 games. Those rookie numbers would be impressive under any circumstances, but they’re particularly remarkable coming from a guy that was drafted with 208th overall pick less than three years ago. He’s projected to play on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson.

In contract, 30-year-old Filppula is a veteran of 105 playoff games and has won the Stanley Cup, thanks to his time in Detroit. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was questioned for handing him a five-year, $25 million contract over the summer, but Filppula’s efforts have justified the signing.

He scored 25 goals and 58 points in 75 contests and is penciled in to play as the team’s second line center. Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan will probably serve as his wingers.