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Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes preview: Can the Bolts stay hot against a difficult opponent?

Finishing the first half of the season

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Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes Game 41

Time: 5:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: FS-CR, SUN

Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished their series against teams from Atlantic Division with the best record we could expect - six wins in six games. With a little help from the Florida Panthers, who lost yesterday, the Lightning have strengthened their position in the standings, although they still didn’t have a chance to pull closer to the Toronto Maple Leafs who went 9-0-1 in their last ten games.

The next opponent on the schedule is the Carolina Hurricanes. The Lightning haven’t played very well against Metropolitan Division teams this season. They’ve lost both previous matchups against the Canes and the Islanders, were swept by the Washington Capitals, earned half of the available points against the New York Rangers and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.

After sitting out the last game against the Senators, Andrei Vasilevskiy will return to the net tonight. As the Russian goaltender admitted in an interview with Joe Smith from the Athletic, he prefers playing against opponents who generate 35-40 shots during the game. The Carolina Hurricanes are a team that plays exactly this way. They have the best possession metrics in the league, leading the NHL in shot share and are among the best teams in expected goal share. It will be also the first game for Vasilevskiy against the Canes. Both previous times Curtis McElhinney was between the goal posts.

Ryan McDonagh left yesterday’s game during the second period and is “doubtful“ for tonight’s game according to Jon Cooper. His injury makes room for Braydon Coburn, who has already played two games since recovering from his own injury last week. McDonagh’s absence also puts pressure on Mikhail Sergachev, who will get more responsibility and most of his workload. Last night, Sergachev played 24:35, which was the second highest TOI of his career.

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning are coming home to face the Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes. The week finishes with another back-to-back on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mitchell Stephens

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn (?) - Kevin Shattenkirk

Scratched: Luke Schenn

Injured: Ryan McDonagh

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Carolina Hurricanes

Forward Lines

Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele

Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen

Ryan Dzingel - Erik Haula - Martin Necas

Brock McGinn - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook

Defense Pairings

Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton

Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce

Haydn Fleury - Joel Edmundson

Goaltenders

Petr Mrazek

James Reimer