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Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks preview: Bolts go for third win in three games in California

The last game before coming home.

NHL: DEC 07 Sharks at Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks Game 52

Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: SAP Center

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSCA, Fox Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Fear the Fin

Preview:

The last home game for the Tampa Bay Lightning was way back back on January 14th. Between that moment and now, the Bolts have played five games on the road and spent one week on vacation during the bye week. After tonight’s game, the team is finally making the cross country flight back to their home arena.

The next opponent is probably the biggest disappointment of theNHL season. The San Jose Sharks had been considered as the one of the favorites before the start of the season, after reaching the Western Conference final last summer. Things got complicated at the start of the season when they lost 11 of 15 first games.

They couldn’t recover from that slow start. Even after a pretty impressive winning run in December, another losing streak followed. In addition to all those problems, the Sharks have lost their two biggest offensive weapons due to injuries in January: Logan Couture was diagnosed with a left ankle fracture and will miss at least three more weeks while Tomas Hertl suffered a torn ACL and MCL and isn’t expected to return before the end of the season.

The Sharks are not doing well in terms of stats either. They’re surprisingly leading the league at penalty kill percentage but other than that, their numbers are quite mediocre. The biggest issue is still their goaltending. They’re the last in the league at save percentage at 5-on-5, even though Aaron Dell has improved by a lot since Bob Boughner was named the interim head coach. The goaltending has been a problem in previous seasons too, but this time the offence isn’t there to support them. The Sharks are at the bottom of the league at both expected goals per 60 and shot attempts per 60 according to Evolving-hockey.com.

The last game against Tampa ended with a debacle for the San Jose Sharks. They allowed seven goals by the Lightning and answered with just one. The dominant offensive performance by the Bolts was supported by Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 37 saves that night.

The Lightning have won both games in California so far, including a victory last night against the Anaheim Ducks. No roster moves are expected apart from Curtis McElhinney returning to the net to give some rest to Andrei Vasilevskiy after winning his 150th career game last night.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Cedric Paquette - Pat Maroon

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Luke Schenn (scratched), Braydon Coburn (scratched)

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

San Jose Sharks

Forward Lines

Evander Kane - Barclay Goodrow - Timo Meier

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Kevin Labanc

Melker Karlsson - Joel Kellman - Stefan Noesen

Marcus Sorensen - Antti Suomela - Dylan Gambrell

Defense Pairings

Brenden Dillon - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Erik Karlsson

Radim Simek - Mario Ferraro

Goalies

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Injured: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl