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Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Three more games ‘til the holiday break

Some familiar faces coming back to town...

NHL: Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 33

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, FS-SW

Opponent SBNation Site: Defending Big D

Preview:

Two days after escaping their game against the Ottawa Senators with two points, the Tampa Bay Lightning will host the Dallas Stars at Amalie Arena tonight, in their last game of a four-game homestand.

Dallas comes into tonight on the first half of a back-to-back, having dropped their last game 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. Dallas struggled in that game, failing to get shots off on multiple odd-man rushes (including a 4-on-1), and their powerplay hasn’t been great, either. Since the abrupt firing of head coach Jim Montgomery, the Stars have gone 2-1-1 under former Bolts assistant coach Rick Bowness.

For the Bolts, on the injury front, both Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson played on Tuesday. Although the former was benched for the latter half of the game, Kucherov should be back to playing regular minutes (and shifts) tonight. Johnson played on the fourth line against Ottawa, but looked no worse for wear. The Lightning played well against the lowly Sens, but it was their lack of attention to detail that made the game closer than it probably should have been (including the turnover for which Kucherov was benched).

The big change tonight is that the team sent Mathieu Joseph to Syracuse this morning presumably both with hope of jumpstarting his confidence again while also giving Mitchell Stephens more minutes. Joseph is young and waiver exempt so healthy scratching him for more than a game is a waste of potential development time. If the coaches would prefer to see Stephens in the lineup for a few games, then it makes sense for Joseph to go where he can continue playing games.

The Stars haven’t confirmed their starting goalie for this game as of yet, but Ben Bishop started against the Oilers and could be in goal again tonight against his old team. It’ll be interesting to see which team’s top special team prevails — Dallas’ third-best penalty kill, or Tampa Bay’s second-best powerplay.

After today’s game, the countdown to the Christmas break is officially on. The Lightning will play twice more between now and Christmas, in Washington on Saturday, and at home again Monday against Florida. Hopefully they can enter the break on a good note, and a clean, mistake-free win tonight would do wonders.

Dallas Stars

Forwards

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov

Mattias Janmark - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau

Denis Gurianov - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry

Justin Dowling

Defense Pairs

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen

Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak

Stephen Johns - Taylor Fedun

Goalies

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mitchell Stephens

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Luke Schenn

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney