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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators preview: Lightning face a difficult opponent

After tonight, the nearly three week international road trip begins.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators Game 10

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: FS-TN

Opponent SBNation Site: On the Forecheck

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are finishing their week long homestand tonight at Amalie Arena with the game against the Nashville Predators. After that, the Lightning are going on their second road trip this season, including three games against Metropolitan division teams and two NHL Global Series games in Stockholm, Sweden.

According to Lightning beat reporter Bryan Burns, the Bolts have played the second fewest number of home games in the league. The only team that has played even less home games is the Minnesota Wild, the worst team in the Western Conference at this time. The Lightning are one pointout of the playoffs and despite some very insulting losses to the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, their record is still pretty solid.

At Friday’s practice, Nikita Kucherov returned to the Brayden Point line. Jon Cooper’s experiment of moving Kucherov to the third line wasn’t very successful. Kucherov created the first goal of the season for Alex Killorn, but mostly there was a lack of understanding between them and Anthony Cirelli.

After two games without a power play goal, the Lightning finally scored one against the Penguins. Tonight’s opponent, the Nashville Predators, have one of the worst penalty kill percentage in the league, which might be helpful to add confidence to the Bolts’ play on the PP.

Meanwhile, Nashville Predators fans are still waiting for some news on Matt Duchene, who didn’t return for the third period of their last game versus the Wild. But the absence of official news probably means that the injury is not serious. The team is already missing Filip Forsberg, so losing another key player would hurt them. Duchene joined the Preds on the first day of free agency last summer and adapted to his new team very well. He’s currently the second most productive player on the Predators roster with 11 points, second only to Ryan Ellis who has 12 points.

Despite the absence of their top goal scorer Filip Forsberg, the Predators are on a two game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 10-1 in those games. For the Lightning, games against the Predators are always one of the hardest. Last season, Nashville were the only team to defeat the Bolts both times they played against each other.

Steven Stamkos is currently sitting at 397 career goals, just three goals away of reaching the 400 goal milestone. Only nine active players have done this before him.

The Bolts will head into this tough matchup with their backup goaltender as Curtis McElhinney will start in net giving Andrei Vasilevskiy a night off.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Luke Witkowski

Scratched: Carter Verhaeghe

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Nashville Predators

Forward Lines

Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund - Kyle Turris - Matt Duchene

Rocco Grimaldi - Nick Bonino - Craig Smith

Miikka Salomaki - Colton Sissons - Austin Watson

Defense Pairings

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm - Dante Fabbro

Dan Hamhuis - Matt Irwin

Goalies

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Injured: Filip Forsberg