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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. San Jose Sharks preview: The last game before vacation

After today, the Lightning will be off for 10 days.

NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. San Jose Sharks: GAME 49

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: Sun, NBCSCA

Opponent SBNation Site: Fear The Fin

Preview:

After losing 4-2 two weeks ago, the Lightning are preparing for the second meeting this season against San Jose Sharks. According to some projections, it could be considered as a possible Stanley Cup Final preview. The Tampa Bay Lightning have 14 a point advantage over Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic division, even after losing to them on a Thursday night, and the San Jose Sharks are second in the Pacific division.

The Sharks surprisingly lost to the Arizona Coyotes in their last game, but they’re still on a hot streak going 8-2-0 in the last 10 games. Their weakest spot remains goaltending. Martin Jones has .903 percentage and that’s not good enough for contending a team.

On the other hand, their defense is great. Erik Karlsson was unfairly criticized at the start of the season by some fans and journalists but has posted a 14-game point streak in December and early January, and successfully returned to the Norris Trophy conversation. While everyone was busy discussing whether Thomas Chabot or Morgan Rielly has been the more impressive defenseman this season, Brent Burns has quietly climbed to the top of the most productive defensemen in the whole league. Peter DeBoer is still trying new combinatiosn of defense pairs for his team and currently, Radim Simek who is playing on the first pair.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic hasn’t played since 2nd January but participated in the morning skate on Friday. Erik Karlsson was absent due to a maintenance day but is expected to play against the Lightning.

Tyler Johnson is listed as day to day with lower body injury and likely will miss tonight’s game. According to the lines from Friday morning practice,Alex Killorn is going to play on the second line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov while JT Miller moves to the third line. Mikhail Sergachev is next on the schedule to get an off night in the D-man rotation.

It’s the last game before the bye week for the Lightning. They’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games and that could be taken as a little slump, but it should be mentioned that both of these defeats were from teams in the spots. Having a couple of day offs should be useful for team before last few months of the regular season. But they’d much rather go into that break with a win against a good Sharks team than losing three out of four games for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Ondrej Palat

Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Mathieu Joseph - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Scratched: Danick Martel

Injured: Tyler Johnson

Defense

Victor Hedman - Dan Girard

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Anton Stralman

Scratched: Mikhail Sergachev

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

San Jose Sharks

Forwards

Marcus Sorensen - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Lukas Radil - Logan Couture - Timo Meier

Evander Kane - Tomas Hertl - Joonas Donskoi

Melker Karlsson - Barclay Goodrow - Kevin Labanc

Defense

Radim Simek - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Erik Karlsson

Tim Heed - Justin Braun

Injuries: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goalies

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell