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UPDATED: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs preview: The return of Brayden Point!

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It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs: GAME 4

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Scotiabank Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS. SNO, SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets

Preview:

Well, if Wednesday’s practice was any indication, all signs point (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) to Brayden Point making his much-earlier-than-anticipated return from injury and season debut tonight. Point centered a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, was on the Bolts top power play unit at practice, and didn’t look at all out of place. Plus, Gemel Smith’s demotion to Syracuse earlier this week was a further sign that Point was ready for game action.

His return couldn’t come at a better time, either, as the Bolts have struggled out of the gate in three games with only three points and one regulation win. They were completely overrun by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday and don’t look at all like the team that steamrolled over their opponents last season. Their first meeting against the Toronto Maple Leafs may be early in the season, but games against divisional rivals are always important.

Meanwhile, the Leafs have had an up-and-down start to their season with a 2-1-1 record. Despite some very major changes to their blueline, it looks as though their defensive issues have lingered and already proven somewhat costly early on. They held a 2-1 lead against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday before the Blues came back to win in regulation. That was preceded by a blown 4-1 lead and shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

With Braydon Coburn mixing in on the blueline at practice yesterday and the Bolts only having 12 healthy forwards up currently, there was some talk about whether or not they would call up another forward from Syracuse in time for tonight’s game. We could also see them play 11 forwards and 7 defenseman, but with Point potentially making his season debut tonight, that may not be the best course of action.

Tonight’s game marks the third of a six game road trip for the Lightning, who left Amalie Arena after the first game of the season and won’t return until October 19th. Both teams are well-rested and looking to rebound from stinging losses several days ago. It should be an entertaining and fast-paced affair, and it will be great to have Point back in the lineup.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Mathieu Joseph - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Carter Verhaeghe - Luke Witkowski

Injured: Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Braydon Coburn

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Kasperi Kapanen - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner

Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Trevor Moore

Nic Petan - Jason Spezza - Frederik Gauthier

Scratched: Nick Shore, Dmytro Timashov

Injured: Zach Hyman

Defense Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci

Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie

Rasmus Sandin - Justin Holl

Scratched: Martin Marincin

Injured: Travis Dermott

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson