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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vancouver Canucks preview: A Clash of the NHL’s two hottest teams

J.T. Miller returns to Tampa for the first time since the trade.

Vancouver Canucks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Vancouver Canucks Game 42

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Sun, Sportsnet Pacific

Opponent SBNation Site: Nucks Misconduct

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have finished their road trip with a seventh consecutive win and come home as the third place team in the Atlantic Division. After last night’s loss by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning are just one point behind them with three games in hand. The Boston Bruins are still at the top of the division, but the gap between them and the Bolts has become much smaller over the last weeks.

Tonight, the Lightning are hosting the Vancouver Canucks who have have recently posted an identical seven game winning streak to the Lightning. The Canucks are currently sitting in the first wild card position, but have played less games than their closest opponents. Adding some spice to this matchup is that the Lightning, among other things, acquired a conditional 2020 first round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for J.T. Miller last summer. That first round pick pick could be transferred to the next year if the Canucks don’t make playoffs this year.

It’s still not clear who won that trade last offseason, but the one person who is definitely benefiting from this situation right now is J.T. Miller. This season, he already has 40 points in 42 games and his average time on the ice increased since last season from 14:40 to 20:05. Miller is also getting more ice time on the power play, which wasn’t possible during his stint with the Lightning. This will be Miller’s first game against the Lightning since the trade.

No detailed information on Ryan McDonagh has been provided yet. The Lightning defenceman has been out with an upper-body injury since the game against Ottawa. In his absence, Braydon Coburn took his spot alongside Erik Cernak.

Tonight’s game will also be the 200th career game for Mikhail Sergachev. Currently in the last year of his Entry Level Contract, the Russian defender has taken a big step forward and is getting top minutes on the power play and at even strength.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Alex Killorn

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Braydon Coburn - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Scratched: Luke Schenn

Injured: Ryan McDonagh

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Vancouver Canucks

Forward Lines

J.T. Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Jake Virtanen

Tyler Motte - Jay Beagle - Tim Schaller

Defense Pairings

Quinn Hughes - Christopher Tanev

Alexander Edler - Troy Stecher

Oscar Fantenberg - Tyler Myers

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Injured: Josh Leivo, Brandon Sutter, Micheal Ferland, Tyler Graovac