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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks preview: Injured Bolts will try to end the losing streak

Steven Stamkos will miss tonight’s game, Blake Coleman and Pat Maroon are questionable.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks: GAME 64

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSCH, SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey

After posting an impressive eleven-game winning streak the Tampa Bay Lightning slid into a not very impressive losing streak of three games. Tonight the Bolts have a chance to get back on track, as their new opponent are the Chicago Blackhawks, the worst team in the Central Division.

Some of their latest problems might be due to having several injured players on their roster. Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta have been absent since early February and the Lightning finished last two games shorthanded, and Erik Cernak and Steven Stamkos were forced to leave games due to injuries. But although Cernak’s injury wasn’t very serious and he managed to return for the next game, Stamkos will miss tonight’s matchup with Chicago. Yesterday, the Lightning recalled Mitchell Stephens from Syracuse as an emergency recall, which means that he needs to be sent down as soon as injured player recovers.

According to Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns, Blake Coleman and Pat Maroon also missed morning skate. In their absence Luke Schenn practiced on a forward line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli. If both players won’t play tonight, the Bolts will likely start the game with an 11 forward/7 defenceman combination. Curtis McEhinney will be the starting goalie today.

Also, don’t forget that the Lightning added three new players before the Trade Deadline and they obviously need some time to adapt to their new teammates. Earlier today Hardev dug a little bit deeper into the recent slump, pointing out that the Lightning haven’t been playing well outside of 5v5. The Lightning PK, which was one of the best in the league at the start of the year, definitely needs Ryan McDonagh to return to the lineup, and the PP has been struggling for the past two months. During this time the Lightning converted on power play opportunities just in four games.

As for the Blackhawks, the season is pretty much over for them. They’re currently sitting at the seventh and the last position in Central Division, eight points behind the last wild-card spot. Understanding their position, the Blackhawks were big sellers at the Trade Deadline, trading Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights and Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames. They also acquired Malcolm Subban from Vegas in exchange for Lehner.

The last time these two teams met, the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 4-2 despite not having Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos on the roster. The game were mostly equal and the Blackhawks even had a slight advantage by the end of the game, but because of the effort by Anthony Cirelli and Cedric Paquette lines, the Lightning earned a win.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Lines based on morning skate

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli -

Tyler Johnson - Cedric Paquette - Barclay Goodrow

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde

Scratched:

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

Goalies

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward Lines

Dominik Kubalik - Jonathan Toews - Drake Caggiula

Brandon Saad - Ryan Carpenter - Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat - Kirby Dach - Dylan Strome

Matthew Highmore - David Kampf - Alex Nylander

Defense Pairings

Duncan Keith - Slater Koekkoek

Olli Maatta - Adam Boquist

Nick Seeler - Connor Murphy

Goalies

Corey Crawford

Malcolm Subban