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Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Home sweet home!

It’s the first of a three-game homestand.

Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 8

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, ALT

Opponent SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

Tonight will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first game back at Amalie Arena since opening night over two weeks ago. They wrapped up a six-game road trip in Boston with an encouraging victory over their Atlantic Division rivals, and on a positive note after a demoralizing loss to Carolina and a lacklustre performance against Ottawa earlier in the trip. It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for the Lightning, and they’re undoubtedly glad to be home.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche are still undefeated in regulation. They remain the only team in the NHL with a donut in the “loss” column. Last night’s gutsy win over the Florida Panthers saw them climb back from 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3 deficits in regulation before Nathan MacKinnon (who was a game-time decision) won the game for them in overtime. The Avalanche enter tonight’s game a confident and resilient team.

Mackinnon (four goals, six assists) extended his season point streak to seven games (Mikko Rantanen had his streak snapped at six last night). He missed Friday’s morning skate with a leg issue, but appeared no worse for the wear during the game and should be playing again tonight. There are otherwise no significant injuries on Colorado’s roster, but there’s a chance one of Valeri Nichushkin or Vladislav Kamenev could draw back into the lineup as the Avs are playing a back-to-back.

As far as the Lightning go, we should expect the same roster that was deployed against Boston on Thursday. Cedric Paquette has continued to practice with the team, but we probably won’t see him back just yet. However, their penalty kill (26th in the league) has been their Achilles heel to start the season (and it nearly cost them against Boston as all three of the Bruins goals were scored on the powerplay). With all of the offensive weapons Colorado can unleash on their man-advantage, their shorthanded play is something the Lightning need to prepare for and be better at.

Colorado will start Pavel Francouz, which could be good for Tampa Bay. The Avalanche haven’t allowed a lot of goals to start the season, but the Lightning could take advantage of playing a tired team starting their backup goaltender. Tampa Bay’s possession numbers are concerning (they sit third-last in the league), and they’re also allowing a lot of shots, but hopefully they can get off to a good start tonight and won’t let their foot off of the gas.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Carter Verhaeghe - Luke Witkowski

Injured: Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Colorado Avalanche

Forward Lines

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi

Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher

Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Matt Nieto

Scratched: Vladislav Kamenev, Valeri Nichushkin

Defense Pairings

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar

Ian Cole - Ryan Graves

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Goaltenders

Pavel Francouz

Philipp Grubauer