Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sun
Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh
The Tampa Bay Lightning start a series of games against the Metropolitan division teams tonight. In a span of six days, the Bolts will face the New York Islanders, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins. During that time, they will play the Penguins twice, including tonight’s game at Amalie Arena.
Jan Rutta is currently listed as week to week due to a lower body injury he suffered against the Golden Knights in the last game. The coaching staff is hopeful that he won’t be out long term, but the time of his return isn’t determined yet. In Rutta’s absence, Mikhail Sergachev was promoted to the first pair on Wednesday’s practice. According to Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards, they haven’t decided yet if Luke Schenn or Braydon Coburn will take Rutta’s spot tonight. But based on their play this season, Coburn seems to be closer to the lineup. Compared to Jan Rutta’s numbers, Coburn doesn’t look strong although Rutta is probably benefiting from playing with Victor Hedman most of the time.
As expected, the Lightning have settled down after the All-Star break in terms of expected goals. The team has posted a positive xG rate just in two games. However, their point streak is continuing due to the productivity of the top lines and solid goaltending by both Vasilevskiy and McElhinney.
At this moment, the Lightning and the Penguins have the same amount of standings points (Pittsburgh has one game in hand) and both teams are basically locks for the Playoffs. The Penguins did this despite losing a lot of key players to injuries during the season. Per NHLInjuryViz, they’ve lost approximately 4.027 of WAR, which is the highest in the league. Some of their players like Jack Guentzel and Brian Dumoulin are still still missing, but at least they have Sidney Crosby back in the lineup.
In the last game between these two teams, the Bolts defeated the Pens 3-2, despite trailing after two periods and a strong performance by Tristan Jarry, who stopped 45 of 48 shots by the Lightning.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Cedric Paquette - Patrick Maroon
Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde
Victor Hedman - Mikhail Sergachev
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Kevin Shattenkirk
Injuries: Jan Rutta
Scratches: Luke Schenn
Jared McCann - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Bryan Rust - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Andrew Agozzino - Sam Lafferty - Anthony Angello
Jack Johnson - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - John Marino
Chad Ruhwedel - Justin Schultz
Injuries: Nick Bjugstad, Jack Guentzel, Brian Dumoulin, Dominik Kahun