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Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights Preview and Game Day Thread: One last game before the break

A clash of two divisional leaders

Vegas Golden Knights v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights: Game 30

Time: 10:00 pm ET

Location: T-Mobile Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, TVAS, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNW, BSSUN

Opponent SB Nation Site: Knights On Ice

Before the NHL decides to shutter it’s windows for the holiday break, the Lightning have one more game to play. Their last game, against the Colorado Avalanche, which was originally scheduled for Saturday was cancelled, but the Lightning are already back on the road, heading west to face the Vegas Golden Knights tonight. Both teams have been relatively untouched by COVID-19 and as of now don’t have any players in the protocol.

The Lightning are approaching the end of the calendar year as one of the league’s leaders, which, given all the issues with injured key players and the lineup full of rookies, is an incredible result. The Lightning’s offence haven’t been as thrilling as it’s been previously (due to losing Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov obviously) and their power play units have been mediocre at best this season, but their strong defense, goaltending and the individual efforts of some players has carried them to their current place.

https://evolving-hockey.com/

No big updates in the injury department. Brayden Point has practiced yesterday in a regular jersey for the first time since sustaining an injury and Nikita Kucherov participated in a 3-on-3 drill recently, but both players still aren’t expected before the break. Speaking of Point, Jon Cooper mentioned that he will likely be day-to-day after the Christmas break.

Just like the Lightning, the Golden Knights had a relatively slow start of the season, but climbed to the top of the standings in the recent weeks. They also had to deal with the absence of some of their significant players over the course of the season. Most recently they’ve lost their captain Mark Stone, who was scratched from Sunday’s game against the New York Islanders and is still questionable for tonight’s game. Earlier he already missed the entire month due to a lower-body injury he suffered in the second game of the season.

Chandler Stephenson is surprisingly leading the Golden Knights with 30 points in 30 games. After being traded from the Washington Capitals couple of years ago, a 27-year-old centre has found himself in Vegas, playing a bigger part for his team from season to season. Old friend Jonathan Marchessault is leading the team in goals with 14 of them.

The Golden Knights are one of the highest scoring team in the league as they’re scoring 3.48 goals per game. Their defence, however, isn’t on the same level as offence, allowing 3.03 goals per game (comparing to 2.59 GA/G by the Lightning). Traditionally, the Golden Knights are a very strong team in terms of possession: according to Natural Stat Trick, they’ve recorded 51.18 CF% and 51.03 xGF% over the first 31 games of the season.

The Lightning haven’t played against the Golden Knights since the 2019-20 regular season. Their last meeting to the date was on February 20, 2020, when Tampa Bay was defeated by Vegas, 5-3. During the franchise history, the teams have met three times at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas with the Lightning winning just one of those game — way back at the beginning of the 2018-19 regular season.

After tonight’s game against the Golden Knights, the Lightning will head home to enjoy the holiday break.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Ross Colton

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Boris Katchouk - Riley Nash - Taylor Raddysh

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Vegas Golden Knights Lines

Forwards

Max Pacioretty - Chandler Stephenson - Evgenii Dadonov

Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith

Mattias Janmark - Nicolas Roy - Keegan Kolesar

Will Carrier - Brett Howden - Mike Amadio

Defense

Nicolas Hague - Alex Pietrangelo

Shea Theodore - Dylan Coghlan

Brayden Mcnabb - Zach Whitecloud

Goaltender

Robin Lehner

Laurent Brossoit