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Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: Time to end a scoring drought

Someone needs to start scoring outside of the fourth line (and Luke Schenn)

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: GAME 40

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Nationwide Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: Bally’s Sports Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: The Cannon

The Tampa Bay’s Lightning’s recent slump continued after their second consecutive loss on Tuesday night. Currently they have a 5-5-0 record in their last ten games, with all five losses happening during the last seven-game stretch. Despite that, the Lightning are confidently sitting in a playoff spot and keeping up with two other teams from the leading group – right now the Lightning are the third in the Central Division and just two points behind the first-place Florida Panthers with one game in hand.

Tonight the Bolts await another meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Recently Columbus have become a most inconvenient opponent for the Lightning – so far this season the Jackets are the only team against whom the Lightning have more losses than wins. The Jackets are also the only team which is outscoring Tampa Bay this season (16-11 in five games).

The scoring drought continues to be the main reason of latest Tampa Bay’s slump. In their last seven games since the start of this slump, the Lightning haven’t yet scored more than three goals in a single game, despite averaging 3.68 goals per game before start of that stretch. The Lightning’s power play has also been unexpectedly silent as the team converted just one power play opportunity in the last seven games.

Many positive words have already been said about the Lightning’s fourth line and rightfully so. Ross Colton’s line remains the most productive during the Lightning’s slump – in fact both goals against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday’s night were created by them. During the last eight games Pat Maroon leads the Lightning in points with six of them. Colton is tied with Brayden Point for most goals during that stretch with three goals in six games.

Erik Cernak is still questionable for tonight’s game. The Lightning defenceman appeared on the practice before Tuesday’s game and according to Jon Cooper will play during the four-game road trip, however didn’t specify when. Jan Rutta is currently in the week-to-week category per Lightning’s head coach. In their absence Ben Thomas has been solid besides his turnover which led to Jack Roslovic’s goal on Tuesday. According to Natural Stat Trick he has 66.67 CF% and 80.10 xGF% at 5v5 during his first two games in NHL, which is very strong numbers, but obviously very inflated due to a small sample size.

The Lightning have also recalled Daniel Walcott to the taxi squad, but so far there’s no information whether he’s actually going to play or if the Lightning need some extra players on their road trip. Mitchell Stephens stays with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, but could be recalled with the way Lightning’s playing at this moment.

After tonight’s game against Columbus, the Lightning are headed to Nashville to play two games against the Predators, which will conclude their last long road trip of the season.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman

Pat Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph

Defense

Victor Hedman - Cal Foote

Ryan McDonagh - Luke Schenn

Mikhail Sergachev - Ben Thomas

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Columbus Blue Jackets Lines

Forwards

Eric Robinson - Max Domi - Patrik Laine

Boone Jenner - Nick Foligno - Cam Atkinson

Oliver Bjorkstrand - Alexandre Texier - Liam Foudy

Mikhail Grigorenko - Jack Roslovic - Zach Dalpe

Defense

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard

Mikko Lehtonen - Michael Del Zotto

Goaltenders

Joonas Korpisalo

Elvis Merzlikins