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Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes Preview: Tired Bolts face a tall task

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After a tough game in Washington, Tampa is back at it again tonight.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes: Game 75

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: PNC Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSCR

Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country

Preview:

In a possible but increasingly unlikely first-round playoff preview, the Tampa Bay Lightning head to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes. According to Hockey Viz, the chances of these two teams meeting is down to 13%, which should be welcome news for Bolts fans.

The Hurricanes have been one of the best teams in the NHL all season but have started getting the results to match their excellent play in the last few months, after a slow start due to awful shooting luck. The Lightning should want no part of them in the first round. Columbus and Montreal are both more likely opponents and would be better matchups.

The Lightning enter tonight’s game following an intense overtime win over the Washington Capitals. Given the physicality of that game, the team will almost certainly be fatigued following a night of travel. Facing one of the hottest teams in the league in this situation is less than ideal.

The Bolts will be relying on the backup goaltender tonight. Andrei Vasilevskiy will get a deserved night off following his team record setting 54 saves against the Caps. Louis Domingue will take over and probably need a strong showing if this tired team is to secure points tonight.

The defense continues to have injury problems with Anton Stralman still out of the lineup and Dan Girardi now out indefinitely according to the team. Cameron Gaunce was recalled on an emergency basis and will likely remain with the team as the seventh option in case someone else is injured. Jan Rutta will continue to fill in on the third pair with Braydon Coburn.

The Lightning currently have 57 wins on the season, putting them three away from securing an historic 60-win season and five away from tying the all-time wins record. Of their eight remaining games, this is one of the least likely to end in victory considering the scheduling and the opponent.

Aside from their pursuit of the wins record, the team also has Nikita Kucherov pursuing individual history. He’s just one point away from 120, which is a number we haven’t seen in the NHL since Sidney Crosby hit that mark in 2006-2007.

This will be a tough game for the Lightning and even a single point would be a success. But they’ve responded in situations like this all season. We’ll see if they can do it again tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - JT Miller

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde

Scratched: Ryan Callahan, Danick Martel

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Mikhail Sergachev

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Jan Rutta

Injured: Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi

Goaltenders

Louis Dominge

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Carolina Hurricanes

Forward Lines

Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Justin Williams

Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen

Micheal Ferland - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook

Warren Foegele - Greg McKegg - Brock McGinn

Defense Pairings

Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goalies

Curtis McElhinney

Petr Mrazek