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Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Must-win against tired divisional rival

We can’t keep watching points wash down the drain.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 32

When: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, TSN5

Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven Sens

Preview:

The good news for Lightning fans is that Nikita Kucherov is only day-to-day with an injury sustained after blocking a shot in the last game. He isn’t expected to be out long term. Tyler Johnson has taken his spot on the top line, and with no recalled player coming from Syracuse, it looks like the Bolts are prepared to go with 11 forwards tonight.

On the other hand, the Senators roll into Tampa having been thrashed by the Panthers last night, 6-1. The game didn’t start too badly, but it did get out of control in the second period. Ottawa, who has been without Craig Anderson for over a week now due to a knee injury, has been playing a tandem of Anders Nilsson and Marcus Högberg. Despite the score, Nilsson wasn’t pulled against Florida, so it will be Hogberg facing the Lightning.

Meanwhile, the Bolts are looking for a rebound win of their own, after dropping Saturday’s game 5-2 to the Washington Capitals. Tampa Bay played well (for the most part) in that game, but a few mistakes ended up costing them the game (and two critical points in the standings).

Florida, who currently sits in the third Atlantic playoff spot, is just two points up on the Bolts after their win against Ottawa. In order to keep pace with them, Tampa Bay must win tonight. The Bolts are fighting with Montreal and Toronto for that final Atlantic playoff spot — just two points separate all four teams.

The Lightning are knocking on the door of a playoff spot, but they can’t let tonight’s game slip out of their hands. Tampa Bay still has a couple of games in hand on the rest of the division, but they won’t have them forever. The tired Sens coming in on the second-half of a back-to-back, with an AHL goalie in net, is something the Bolts have to capitalize on. Hopefully they do.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson (?)
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Mathieu Joseph
Injured: Nikita Kucherov

Recalled: Mitchell Stephens - he could be in the line-up if Kucherov or Johnson aren’t ready to go.

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Luke Schenn
Injured: Braydon Coburn

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Curtis McElhinney

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Brady Tkachuk - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Connor Brown
Vladislav Namestnikov - Chris Tierney - Anthony Duclair
Tyler Ennis - Artem Anisimov - Scott Sabourin
Maxime Lajoie - Logan Brown - Colin White
Mikkel Boedker - J.C. Beaudin

Defense Pairs

Thomas Chabot - Ron Hainsey
Mark Borowiecki - Cody Goloubef
Erik Brannstrom - Andreas Englund
Max Lajoie
Injured: Nikita Zaitsev

Goalies

Marcus Hogberg
Anders Nilsson