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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Minnesota Wild preview: The Bolts can clinch a playoff spot tonight

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Not that anyone is surprised.

NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Minnesota Wild: Game 68

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, FS-N

Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness

Preview

The Lightning host the Wild for the first and the last time this season tonight at Amalie Arena. They’ve already met each other back in October, when the Bolts were defeated in overtime in Minnesota. The winning goal was scored by Michael Granlund and assisted by Charlie Coyle, both of whom aren’t playing for the Wild anymore.

Prior to tonight’s game, Minnesota had two consecutive shootout losses against the Nashville Predators and extended their point strike to seven games. They are currently in the last playoff spot in the West with a two point advantage over the Avalanche.

One of the Wild’s biggest problem is very low shooting percentage. They are converting their shots at just 6.8% at 5v5 resulting in a very low PDO.

Some key players are still missing from the Wild roster. Mathew Dumba is on the injured reserve list and isn’t expected to return this season. This also applies to Mikko Koivu, who has a knee injury. Victor Rask, who was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes before the Trade Deadline, has a lower body injury and hasn’t played since the 13th of February.

But even with this injuries, Minnesota has managed to get back into the playoff race. Kevin Fiala scored his first goal after the trade from the Predators against his former team and Ryan Donato has even earned time on the first power-play unit.

Speaking of the Lightning, they have impressive 14 wins in the last 17 games and have at least one point in 16 games during this span. They can clinch a playoff spot tonight if they win over the Wild and either the Canadiens or the Blue Jackets lose in a regulation. This would be the Bolts’ fifth postseason in the last six years.

There shouldn’t be any big changes in the line-up against the Wild. Anton Stralman spent the last practice with Victor Hedman on the first pair and Dan Girardi practiced with Danick Martel and very likely will be scratched.

Nikita Kucherov tied Vincent Lecavalier’s record for the most points during a single season for the franchise against the Jets. He is still on pace for beating Alexander Mogilny for the most points in a single season for a Russian player. Mogilny established his record in 1992-93 season with 127 points in 77 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde

Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph

Scratched: Danick Martel, Ryan Callahan

Defense

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh - Eric Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Dan Girardi

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Minnesota Wild

Forwards

Jordan Greenway - Eric Staal - Jason Zucker

Zach Parise - Luke Kunin - Kevin Fiala

Ryan Donato - Joel Eriksson Ek - Pontus Aberg

Marcus Folingo - Eric Fehr - J.T. Brown

Defense

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Brad Hunt

Greg Pateryn - Anthony Bitetto

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

Injured: Matt Dumba, Mikko Koivu, Victor Rask