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Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings Preview and Game Day Thread

The first game of the California trip

Tampa Bay Lightning v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings: GAME# 7
Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Crypto.com Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUNX, BSW
DraftKings Line: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5
Opponent SBNation Site: Jewels From the Crown

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s schedule hasn’t been the easiest one at the start of this regular season. Out of six games they played so far, four were road games, three were against teams which participated in last playoffs, and the Bolts played two back-to-backs within 11 opening days of the season. Now they’re headed on the California trip, which is exhausting for any team on the East coast. On top of that, the first two games on that trip are back-to-back games...again.

After a slow start of the season the Bolts have started scoring points on a more regular basis, even though their performance is still sloppy. They’ve won their last two games despite being outplayed by their opponents. The New York Islanders outshot them 73-46 in all situations but the Lightning still found their way to the opposite net, scoring five goals and, most importantly, they scored all of those goals at 5v5.

Refreshingly for Tampa Bay, their next opponents aren’t exactly famous for their strong possession numbers. All three Californian teams are below the Bolts at CF%, xGF%, and GF% at 5v5 this season. The Los Angeles Kings — tonight’s opponent — being the best of them, having 47.58 CF%, 44.44 GF% and 48.06 xGF% at 5v5. Playing against those teams should hopefully bring some confidence back for the Lightning.

Speaking of confidence, Alex Killorn should be feeling more relieved now as he ended his six-month goal drought in a game against the Isles. Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul also scored their first goals of the season, but there’s still one important player with zero next to his name on a scoreboard.

Nikita Kucherov has been feeding his linemates with assists in pretty much every game, but still has yet to score his own first goal of the season. It’s his longest goal drought from the start of the season since 2014-15, when he waited for his first goal until the ninth game. Only Steven Stamkos is shooting more than Kucherov on the Lightning’s roster this season, so that seems like a short-term slump so far — a player with at least 14 percent of shooting percentage in each of his previous eight seasons should start scoring goals more regularly anytime soon.

With another back-to-back ahead of the Lightning, we can expect Andrei Vasilevskiy to play in the first game with Brian Elliott starting in the second leg of back-to-back as it was played in first two back-to-backs of the season. Erik Cernak, who missed the previous game against the Isles, appeared on yesterday’s practice and should be ready for tonight’s game.

The Kings didn’t have an easy start of the season themselves as they’ve just ended their five-game road trip, which they started with three consecutive wins, but unfortunately for them saw losses in the final two games. The Kings have a relatively young team this season with just four players on a current roster older than 30. A 23-year-old Gabriel Vilardi leads the team with four goals and seven total points in seven games, other players like Arthur Kaliyev or Quinton Byfield starting playing more important roles. Unfortunately, Los Angeles recently lost forward Alex Iafallo, who was placed on LTIR with a lower-body injury. Their line with Byfield and Vilardi had been very effective at the start of the season with Iafallo scoring five points in four games before his injury.

Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles Comparison

Game #7 Tampa Bay Lightning Los Angeles Kings
Game #7 Tampa Bay Lightning Los Angeles Kings
Overall Record 3-3 3-4
Home Record 1-1-0 0-2-0
Road Record 2-2-0 3-2-0
Goals For 18 24
Goals Against 19 31
xGF 19.82 21.86
xGA 22.73 21.75
PP% 28% 15.2%
PK% 81.8% 78.1%
Stats from NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Vlad Namestnikov
Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Corey Perry
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Cole Koepke

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix
Ian Cole - Philippe Myers

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliott

Los Angeles Kings

Forward Lines

Adrian Kempe - Anze Kopitar - Kevin Fiala
Trevor Moore - Philip Danault - Viktor Arvidsson
Arthur Kaliyev - Quinton Byfield - Gabriel Vilardi
Brendan Lemieux - Blake Lizotte - Carl Grundstrom

Defense Pairings

Michael Anderson - Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi - Matt Roy
Brandt Clarke - Sean Walker

Goaltenders

Jonathan Quick
Cal Petersen