Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, SNW
Opponent SBNation Site: The Copper & Blue
First of all, LOL, Ottawa.
All right, back to business.
The Oilers, who arrived in Tampa for their third game of a four-game road trip, were searching for their 6th straight road win of the season against the Washington Capitals last night. Despite goals from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, a rough start that saw them allow two goals in the opening six minutes derailed their chances to win as they fell to the Caps 4-2.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is coming off a huge win against the Senators (again, LOL) on Sunday night that saw the kids wreak havoc on Ottawa to set the stage for a comeback. Mathieu Joseph scored his first NHL goal, Brayden Point tied the game and set up the overtime winner (after being punched in the face by a puck), and newly re-signed Yanni Gourde finished off the comeback for the Bolts.
Edmonton has actually had a decent start to the season. Not only did they win their first 6 road games, they have an 8-5-1 record and sit in the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. And although starting goalie Cam Talbot has struggled this season, backup Mikko Koskinen has been a revelation. Koskinen has won two straight games, including shutting out the Chicago Blackhawks, and boasts a .935 save percentage in three starts. With the Oilers on the second-half of a back-to-back, head coach Todd McLellan will undoubtedly turn to Koskinen against the Lightning.
Connor McDavid extended his point-scoring streak to eight games scoring his tenth goal of the season against Washington. Unsurprisingly, he leads the Oilers with 22 points in 14 games. His linemate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 16 points in 14 games, and Draisaitl is next with 15 points. What may come as a bit of a shock is that Alex Chiasson has found his scoring touch this season, rattling off an impressive six goals in nine games.
However, Edmonton’s third line has struggled tremendously. Milan Lucic only has four points, and Ryan Strome is still searching for his first point of the season. Jesse Puljujarvi’s struggles have been well-documented. The former fourth overall pick in 2016 was demoted to the fourth line in the second game, was a healthy scratch eight games in, and is only playing about twelve minutes per night.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will return to the Lightning crease Tuesday night after Louis Domingue started against Ottawa. Vasilevskiy has been excellent this season, and has the same save percentage as Koskinen (though in a much larger sample size). Tampa Bay’s victory over Ottawa was their tenth win of the season, vaulting them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bolts have found, well, lightning in a bottle with the chemistry that Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph have. Their ability to break down the opponent’s defense with their relentless forecheck gives the Lightning a strong and reliable third line that can also create offense. The Lightning have the sort of depth the Oilers could have had (you know what I mean), which has helped them out in so many games this season. If the Steven Stamkos line falls silent, Brayden Point’s line can carry the offense. When Point’s line falters, Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are usually wreaking havoc on other teams.
The Lightning have fared well enough in Victor Hedman’s absence, but it hasn’t been the smoothest adjustment. It was nice to see Slater Koekkoek get his first goal in nearly a calendar year, and he’s playing with the sort of confidence that we haven’t seen in a very long time (maybe ever, at least at the NHL level). Head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Hedman wouldn’t return until later this week, which means the Bolts may need to draw up a new plan to stop McDavid. Weak team around him or not, he still has the ability to break down a team’s defense by himself. If Ottawa’s third goal on Sunday night was any indication (though that entire play was just a series of unfortunate events), the Lightning still have some ways to go to figure out how to stabilize their blueline in Hedman’s absence.
Edmonton’s Ty Rattie was activated off injured reserve over the weekend. Although he didn’t dress against Washington, he would be a safe bet to come into the lineup against Tampa Bay, especially for an Oilers team looking to inject some offense into their bottom-six. Kailer Yamamoto continues to sit for Edmonton. He hasn’t played a game in November yet, which is strange for a team searching for more offense. It would be interesting to see if McLellan slides him into the lineup, as Edmonton will need all the speed and skill they can muster to have a chance of beating the Lightning. Meanwhile, Ondrej Palat hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s game, but has missed the last five games with a lower body injury.
It should be an interesting game, but whatever the final score ends up being, at least both teams can take solace in the fact that neither one of them are in a situation like the Senators right now.
Tampa Bay Lightning
J.T. Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Injured: Ondrej Palat
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Slater Koekkoek - Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Injured: Victor Hedman
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Connor McDavid - Drake Caggiula
Tobias Rieder - Leon Draisaitl - Alex Chiasson
Milan Lucic - Ryan Strome - Jesse Puljujarvi
Jujhar Khaira - Kyle Brodziak - Zack Kassian
Ty Rattie, Kailer Yamamoto
Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse - Kris Russell
Jason Garrison - Matt Benning
Injured: Andrej Sekera