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Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning: Finishing the season series against Columbus

The Blue Jackets last two wins happened against the Bolts

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: GAME 48

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, SN

Opponent SBNation Site: The Cannon

The Tampa Bay Lightning are finishing this season’s series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night at Amalie Arena. Despite being the worst team in the division and even giving up a spot in the standings to the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus has been a very tough opponent this season. Currently the Lightning lead them 4-3 during this regular season, with the Blue Jackets slightly outshooting the Bolts 21-20.

The Lightning haven’t won two games in a row in the past two weeks, scoring three goals or less in each game during this timespan. The Lightning are still struggling with converting their chances, however couple of their players – Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat – have broken their scoreless draughts in the previous game.

Entering tonight’s game, the Blue Jackets are 1-8-1 during the last 10 games with eight consecutive losses in a row. The only victory during this stretch is the win over the Lightning on April 6. In fact both of Columbus’ most recent victories came against Tampa Bay. The Jackets were finally officially eliminated from the playoff race after the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

The Blue Jackets await a long rebuilding process, which frankly should have started a very long time ago. The team have traded two of their leaders – David Savard and Nick Foligno (although Foligno could return in the offseason) and will try to trade one of their goaltenders in the next offseason (most likely Elvis Merzlikins). John Tortorella is the most likeliest candidate to leave the team. The Blue Jackets head coach spent too much time confronting with his top players – most recent Max Domi – while his team were underperforming.

After a five-day rest, Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to return in the Lightning’s net. Curtis McElhinney did a great job in the previous game, stopping 24 of 25 opponent’s shots and bouncing back from his previous game, when he allowed 7 goals on 22 shots against the Predators.

Jan Rutta started skating this week with the team this week. He hasn’t played since the end of March and expected to return before the end of the regular season. Rutta will potentially replace Luke Schenn in the lineup, who has been playing about 10 minutes per game mostly with Mikhail Sergachev on the third pair.

The Lightning finish their 10-day homestand tonight and head to Chicago on Tuesday for the final game of the regular season against the Blackhawks. With nine games remaining this regular season, the Lightning are currently third in the Central Division, four points behind the divisional leader Carolina Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Alex Barre-Boulet

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman

Patrick Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph

Defense

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - David Savard

Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Columbus Blue Jackets Lines

Forwards

Oliver Bjorkstrand - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson

Stefan Matteau - Alexandre Texier - Patrick Laine

Eric Robinson - Max Domi - Nathan Gerbe

Ryan MacInnis - Josh Dunne - Kole Sherwood

Defense

Michael Del Zotto - Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov - Mikko Lehtonen

Dean Kukan - Gavin Bayreuther

Goaltenders

Elvis Merzlikins

Joonas Korpisalo