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Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs preview: Stamkos finally comes home!

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Not his first game back in Toronto, but this will be Stamkos’ first game against the Leafs since deciding to stay.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game 6

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada

Broadcast/Streaming: Lightning Radio, Fox Sun Sports, 970 WFLA, TVAS, SN1

Opponent SBNation Site: PensionPlanPuppets.com

Preview:

While this won’t be Steven Stamkos’ first appearance in Air Canada Centre since signing an eight year extension with the Lightning, it will be his first in a Lightning jersey. On the other side of the match is fellow first-overall pick and sensational center Auston Matthews. One is 26 years old and a veteran playing in his 575th NHL game with 315 career goals. The other is 18 years old playing in his 6th NHL game, and already has 5 goals. Both are incredible talents, and it will be intriguing to watch them go head to head.

As has become the norm with Stamkos whenever he comes to Toronto, he was peppered with questions by the Toronto media. Despite the reactions by many heart-broken and delusional Leafs fans over his decision to not come home, Stamkos says he has only had positive interactions with fans in Toronto.

After getting shut out by the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Thursday before departing on a six-game road trip, Jon Cooper changed up the top three lines. The changes worked and the Lightning scored four goals on the Ottawa Senators in a 4-1 win. The power play clicked for the first time since opening night and went 2/4, though the last power play was only seconds long at the very end of the game.

The Lightning will look to continue their hot start (4-1-0) that has them second in the Atlantic Division. The only real road bump was that shutout loss to the Avalanche. Otherwise, the Lightning have looked good.

The upstart Maple Leafs (1-1-3) are coming in to the game on a three game losing streak. They are averaging 3.6 goals per game, but are also allowing 3.6 goals per game. They have a team filled with an interesting mix of veterans and youth with skill sprinkled throughout their line up. The defense is still a question mark at times and new goaltender Frederik Andersen is taking some time to settle in to his new surroundings after Toronto acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks over the summer.

With Andrei Vasilevskiy starting the game against Ottawa, Ben Bishop is likely back in net against the Maple Leafs. Bishop has been shaky and will be looking to turn in a solid performance. If the defense can hold up and Bishop can tighten up his performance, this could be a dominating performance for the Lightning. On the other hand, it could end up being a run and gun, shoot out game that ends up with 10 goals total in the game.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Brayden Point

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

IR: Ryan Callahan

Defence Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn - Nikita Nesterov

Likely Scratched: Matt Taormina

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown

Matt Martin - Peter Holland - Seth Griffith/Josh Leivo

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner - Roman Polak

Matt Hunwick - Nikita Zaitsev

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Jhonas Enroth

Line information will be updated in the Game Day Thread.