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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders preview: Mitchell Stephens debuts tonight

The Lightning go for to win two in a row.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Islanders: Game 28

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS

Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey

Preview:

After one of the best games of the season on Saturday, the Lightning play again at Amalie Arena tonight. This time, they host the New York Islanders who currently sit in second place in the Metro Division once again defying projections and putting together an impressive start to the season under head coach Barry Trotz.

The Isles got off to a hot start this season but have cooled a bit lately going 5-4-1 in their last ten games. That hot start is enough to keep them in second place in a tough division for now. And they still have two games in hand. Much like last year, they’ve posted mediocre shot metrics but have been buoyed by excellent goaltending. That’s usually not a sustainable approach especially when the team switched goaltenders over the summer but so far, they’ve been able to sustain it.

The Lightning made some roster moves this morning recalling forwards Cory Conacher and Mitchell Stephens from Syracuse. As Geo noted when the news broke, Tyler Johnson missed the last half of the third period of Saturday night’s game. The team later announced that he has a lower body injury and will likely miss at least a few games. He’s meeting with the doctors today and the team will know more after that.

The team also confirmed that Stephens will make his debut tonight. Interestingly, he was rotating in and out with Mathieu Joseph on the fourth line during practice while Conacher skated on the third line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. That suggests that Joseph will be healthy scratched tonight. That would be quite a surprise as even though he hasn’t been scoring much, his play driving has still been strong.

The addition of Stephens to the fourth line created an opportunity for Yanni Gourde to bump up to playing on Steven Stamkos’ wing opposite Carter Verhaeghe. That’s an extremely fun line including a former number one draft pick and two wingers who had to make their way through the ECHL to get to this level.

On the blue line, it looks like Luke Schenn will get back into the lineup and Jan Rutta will sit. Rutta had a pretty good game against the Sharks but the coaches seem content to rotate him with Schenn depending on matchups.

Curtis McElhinney will get the start tonight. That’s a bit surprising considering how good Vasilevskiy was in his last game but it looks like the coaches want their started for the divisonal matchup against the Panthers in Sunrise tomorrow.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Carter Verhaeghe - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Cory Conacher

Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Mitchell Stephens

Mathieu Joseph (scratched), Tyler Johnson (injured)

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn

Jan Rutta (scratched), Braydon Coburn (injured)

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

New York Islanders

Forward Lines

Ross Johnston - Mat Barzal - Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Michael Dal Colle

Anders Lee - Derick Brassard - Jordan Eberle

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Defense Pairings

Noah Dobson - Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews - Scott Mayfield

Goalies

Thomas Greiss

Semyone Varlamov