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Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche preview: Back on the road again

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Can they make it eleven games in a row?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche: GAME 60

Time: 9:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Pepsi Center

Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SN, ALT, SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are back.

Granted, they were never gone to begin with, but some shaky goaltending at the beginning of the season was enough to cause doubt. Now that Andrei Vasilevskiy is back to form, the Bolts look almost unstoppable, even with all the injuries they’ve had. They won their tenth straight game on Saturday against the Flyers — their 11th straight at home — and now head into Denver for the start of their three game road trip.

Tonight won’t likely mark newly-acquired Blake Coleman’s debut with the Bolts — he’ll join the team for Thursday’s game against Vegas. When he does, we speculated that it could be Carter Verhaeghe coming out of the lineup — though we will likely see some re-shuffling of the entire bottom-six no matter where Coleman slots into the Bolts forward corps. For tonight, though, the lineup should stay the same from Saturday’s game.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche dropped a lackluster affair to the LA Kings on Saturday in their Stadium Series game. They lost both depth forward Matt Calvert and starting goalie Philipp Grubauer to lower body injuries and had no answer for the Kings in that game. The Avs recalled goalie Hunter Miska from the AHL yesterday, but it will be backup Pavel Francouz facing the Lightning offense tonight.

Colorado will have to find a way to get back to their game now without their starting goalie, but the good news is that Francouz has been able to win games for them this season. In fact, Francouz was in net the first time the Bolts played the Avalanche at the beginning of the season — and he stopped 44 of 46 shots for the win. Although things look to be leaning in favour of the Lightning, they can’t and shouldn’t underestimate this Avalanche team.

The Lightning are battling the Boston Bruins for the division, conference, and league lead. Boston picked up two more points yesterday, so if the Bolts want to keep pace with them, they’ll need a win tonight. Plus, a win tonight would mark their eleventh straight, and be a great start to their road trip. Even though they’re all but guaranteed a playoff berth right now, anything can happen in the final 22 games of the season.

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards

Andre Burakovsky - Nathan Mackinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi

Valeri Nichushkin - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Tyson Jost

Matt Nieto - T.J. Tynan - Vladislav Kamenev

Injured: Matt Calvert, Nazem Kadri, Colin Wilson

Defense Pairs

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov

Goalies

Pavel Francouz

Hunter Miska

Injured: Philipp Grubauer

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Tyler Johnson

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde

On his way: Blake Coleman

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn

Cameron Gaunce

Injured: Ryan McDonagh, Jan Rutta

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney