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Lightning at Golden Knights preview: Long story short, keep scoring goals

Dec 21, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Las Vegas Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) attempts to gain control of the puck in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Game #68 – Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights
Time: 10:00 PM EST
Location: T-Mobile Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, SCRIPPS, ESPN+, Hulu

Opponent’s Site: Knights on Ice


The Late Night Edition of the Lightning kicks off tonight with a match-up against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights. This is likely the toughest game on their four-game swing through the west coast, and finishes off a stretch of three games against quality opponents. It’s been a mixed bag so far despite the fact that they won the first two games of the trio. After a slow start against the Rangers, they played pretty well down the stretch. Then, after a good start against the Panthers, they had to rely on the heroics of Andrei Vasilevskiy for two-thirds of the game.

The Golden Knights are going to be another good test for where the Bolts are with 15 games to go in the season. Vegas, as always, boasts one of the strongest defensive cores in the league, and they only got stronger with the addition of Noah Hanifin at the trade deadline. Hanifin, the prized target of Lightning fans just a couple of weeks ago has fit in nicely with his new team, racking up four assists in five games.

Vegas can roll out five defensemen in Hanifin, Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, and Alex Martinez that would likely be on the first pairing for a lot of teams around the league. Oh, and Ben Hutton hasn’t played poorly either. It’s a nice luxury to have, and is one of the big reasons they won the Stanley Cup last season.

Up front, they are still missing Mark Stone, who is likely to be out until the playoffs, but there are plenty of players filling in the missing spots. Old friend Jonathan Marchessault is three goals away from his first 40-goal season while William Karlsson is casually hanging out on the third line with 24 goals. While they might not have any one player that is lighting up the points column, they do get depth scoring from up and down the line-up as they have four players with more than 40 points.

Despite their depth, it’s been a bit of a struggle for them as injuries once again have hampered them a bit. In addition to Stone, newly acquired Tomas Hertl is on injured reserve. Karlsson, Jack Eichel, and William Carrier have all missed significant time with injuries as well. Taking that into consideration, the Golden Knights are in a similar spot as the Lightning. Sure, they are probably going to make the playoffs, but it’s not a lock. Entering the game they are sitting in the second wild card spot in the west with a four-point lead over the St. Louis Blues.

They’ve been scuffling along a bit as they are 3-4 in their last seven games with losses to non-playoff teams the Flames, Blue Jackets, and Sabres. A 3-1 win over the Devils on Sunday seems to have them back on track a bit, though.

As for the Lightning, it seems they’ve found their offense in March as they’ve averaged 4.8 goals per game in their five contests so far. That’s pretty good! Their last time out they found the back of the net five times against the Panthers (with one empty net), which is a good sign because they are only averaging 3.03 goals per game on the season, which is 16th in the league.

They need all the scoring they can get when they are away from Amalie Arena because their goals against is 3.61 per game, 27th in the league. If we want to spin things into a positive direction, things have been over a little better over the last couple of months. With the exception of the six goals they gave up in Philadelphia on February 27, they’ve give up three or fewer goals in nine of their last eleven road games. Which is a big reason they are 7-4 over that stretch.

Tonight should be a playoff-style game where Vegas won’t give them much in the offensive zone and the Bolts will have to be patient with the puck. Expect a physical game as well as Vegas is averaging 23.87 hits per game, which is eighth in the league. Tampa Bay has played well against teams that throw the body around as their last two wins were against Florida (ranked first) and the Rangers (ranked seventh). Hopefully, they can continue that trend and pick up another important two points.

Stats Match-up

Game #68Tampa Bay LightningVegas Golden Knights
Overall Record36-25-636-24-7
Home Record21-9-421-10-2
Road Record15-16-215-14-5
Goals For232212
Goals Against225198
Power Play28.9%19.0%
Penalty Kill81.2%80.8%
Last 10 Games6-3-14-5-1
Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick


Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Anthony Duclair – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos – Anthony Cirelli – Brandon Hagel
Mikey Eyssimont – Nick Paul – Conor Sheary

Tyler Motte – Luke Glendening – Mitchell Chaffee

Victor Hedman – Darren Raddysh
Haydn Fleury – Erik Cernak
Calvin de Haan – Matt Dumba

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jonas Johansson

Lines were based on what the Lightning were running at Monday’s practice. Tanner Jeannot was working in on the third line in Eyssimont’s spot while Nick Perbix and Emil Lilleberg were paired up on defense.

Vegas Golden Knights Projected Lines

Ivan Barbashev – Jack Eichel – Jonathan Marchessault

Chandler Stephenson – Nicolas Roy – Anthony Mantha

Pavel Dorofeyev – William Karlsson – Michael Amadio

William Carrier – Brett Howden – Keegan Kolesar

Noah Hanifin – Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb – Shea Theodore

Ben Hutton – Alex Martinez


Logan Thompson

Adin Hill

The Playoff Race

Atlantic DivisionGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
Boston Bruins6940-14-159513
Florida Panthers6845-19-49414
Toronto Maple Leafs6638-19-98516
Wild CardGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
Washington Capitals6733-25-97515
Detroit Red Wings 6834-28-67414
Top 3 teams in the Atlantic make the playoffs, top two wild card teams also make the playoffs
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