Calgary Flames (30-26-4) at Tampa Bay Lightning (27-24-8): GAME# 60
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SUN, SNW
Opponent SBNation Site: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Once more into the breach for the Lightning. Riding a seven-game point streak, Tampa Bay takes on the Calgary Flames tonight at Amalie Arena. Calgary has picked up points in seven of their last nine games to claw their way into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Flames won a wild one on Tuesday, beating the Nashville Predators 6-5 in overtime.
As a team, Calgary is 19th in goals per game at 2.60 per game. They are led on offense by center Mikael Backlund. The ninth-year pro is on pace to have a career season, he’s put up 41 points in 60 games. Johnny Gaudreau, who broke out of a small slump with four assists against Nashville, has 39 points. Rounding out the scoring is rookie Matthew Tkachuk. The sixth-overall pick from last year’s draft has 39 points to go along with his 94 penalty minutes on the season.
As for the Lightning, they are in a precarious position where any loss is a big blow to their chances of making the postseason. If they lose when all the teams ahead of them lose, they fail to take advantage. If they lose when all the teams win, then they lose ground. So they just have to win, and win, and win.
Helping them try to achieve that near-impossibility is a rejuvenated Triplets line. Reunited for the last two games (both wins), the line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat have combined for 24 shots, 3 goals and 5 assists. Kucherov, in particular, has stepped up the offensive pressure. After being held to a total of 2 shots in three games, he has 15 in his last two.
With the Johnson line up to their old antics, the Lightning have two legitimate scoring lines for the first time since Steven Stamkos tore up his knee November. Opponents now have to decide if they want to send out their best defenders against Johnson and friends, or against Jonathan Drouin, Brayden Point, and Alex Killorn.
Following tonight’s game, the Lightning will be, for the most part, done with their Western Conference opponents. Eighteen of their final 22 games will be against teams they are battling against for a playoff spot. It’s a shame since their seven-game point streak has come against Western Conference teams.
Health-wise the Lightning are about as good as they could be. Ryan Callahan is likely out for the season, but since he’s only played in 18 games this season, that doesn’t really affect the team that much.
The Lightning will be hosting Pride Night in conjunction with the NHL’s You Can Play initiative. Players from both teams will be using rainbow-colored tape during the game, with some of the sticks being auctioned off following the game.
The Flames are 4-6-2 all time during the regular season at Amalie Arena. Without a doubt, their most memorable game in their history was Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. Lightning fans might remember that one fondly.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat- Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Vlad Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Brian Boyle
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Jonathan Drouin?
Gabriel Dumont - Cedric Paquette - JT Brown / Cory Conacher?
Jason Garrison - Anton Stralman
Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Troy Brouwer
Kris Versteeg - Sam Bennett - Alex Chiasson
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - Micheal Ferland
Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
Mark Bartkowski - Michael Stone
Lines will be updated after morning skate based on Erik Condra’s latest travel plans.