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Vegas Golden Knights at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Special teams may be the difference

Nikita Kucherov has double the points that Alex Tuch has, which is wild.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Vegas Golden Knights at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 53

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SUN, ATTSN-RM

Opponent SBNation Site: Knights On Ice

Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning have hit 80 points after winning back-to-back games against New York teams on their most recent road trip. They’ll host Vegas tonight in the first game of their three-game homestand.

The Lightning visited Vegas at the end of October, coming away with a 3-2 road win. But a lot has changed since. The Golden Knights have put together a couple of lengthy win streaks, the longest being seven games. However, they have lost their last four games, including two coming out of their bye-week.

Their stop in Tampa will be Vegas’ third game of their four-game road trip. Alex Tuch leads the Golden Knights in scoring with 40 points. They haven’t gotten the goaltending that they did last season, but it’s been enough to stay afloat with other teams in the playoff race, since they sit 3rd in the Pacific. Vegas has the second-best penalty kill in the league, which should come in handy against the Lightning’s NHL-best powerplay. The special teams battle will be quite interesting.

There was a bit of a surprise when several people noticed Brayden Point wasn’t on the ice during the warm-up skate on Saturday against the Rangers. The team announced that he would miss the game due to an injury. The Bolts have had three days off since, and we did get a bit of an update yesterday during practice:

Point didn’t skate yesterday, so the lines and powerplay units were shuffled as a result:

The Bolts’ lines below were taken from yesterday’s practice (without Point). In the event that he takes the morning skate and appears ready to play, the lines will be updated accordingly. Based on blueline rushes from yesterday, it looks like it’s Dan Girardi’s turn to sit for a game as the team continues its back-end rotation.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Injured: Brayden Point

Scratched: Danick Martel

Defense

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Dan Girardi

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Vegas Golden Knights

Forwards

Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Valentin Zykov

Max Pacioretty - Paul Statsny - Alex Tuch

Brandon Pirri - Cody Eakin - Reilly Smith

Tomas Nosek - Pierre-Edouard Bellmare - Ryan Reaves

Scratched: Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Carpenter

Defense

Brayden McNabb - Nate Schmidt

Shea Theodore - Deryk Engelland

Jon Merill - Colin Miller

Scratched: Jake Bischoff

Goalies

Marc-Andre Fleury

Maxime Legace