Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, FS-SW
Opponent SBNation Site: Defending Big D
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.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Denis Gurianov - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak
Stephen Johns - Taylor Fedun
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mitchell Stephens
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk