Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSun
Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven Sens
The long break is over. The fun and festivities of the Stadium Series game are over. Now it’s time to settle in for the grind. Over the next 61 days the Lightning will play their remaining 31 games. While tonight’s game, and the next two, are in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena, much of March will be spent on the road for the Lightning. Ten of their fifteen games this month are on the road, including the always fun trip through Western Canada (now with a stop in Seattle!)
They open up the penultimate month of the season with a game against the Ottawa Senators, who are currently sitting in sixth place in the Atlantic Division with a 19-27-5 (43 points) and then follow with games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. After that they don’t return home until March 19th. Then it’s back on the road until the 29th.
It’s the fourth match-up of the season between the two teams with the Lightning taking two out of the previous three, including the most recent game in Tampa. It hasn’t exactly been easy as that win was just 2-1 (Victor Hedman scored the winning goal). The first contest was a 5-3 win that was only decided in the third period thanks to a three-goal flurry for the Lightning. Then the Bolts were shut out 4-0. Not exactly smooth sailing for Tampa Bay.
One thing going in the Lightning’s favor is that one of the players that has performed the best against them, Drake Batherson, is still out of the line-up due to the ankle injury he suffered on January 25th. The rookie had four points, all assists, in the previous three games. They will still have to deal with Brady Tkachuk who has four goals against the Lightning this year.
In net, Anton Forsberg will probably get the nod over Matt Murray due to the fact he’s played really well against the Bolts in his two starts. He posted the shutout back on December 11th and has stopped 50 of the 52 shots overall for a superlative .962 save percentage. He’s also won three of his last four starts, including a 40-save effort against the Minnesota Wild on February 22nd.
He’ll have to face a Lightning line-up that does have it’s full offensive capabilities, something he hasn’t seen yet this year. The missing ingredient in those two starts - Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning winger is on one of his usual heaters, posting 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) in his last 5 games. He has three multi-point games in a row and 10 in 16 games this season. In one of those odd, small-sample-size stats he has 5 games without a point, but just 1 game (against Colorado) with only 1 point.
After he left the game against the Nashville Predators in the second period, it appears Erik Cernak should be good to go for the game tonight.
Jon Cooper on the status of Erik Cernak: “He has a good skate today so I do not anticipate any issues”— Gabby Shirley (@Gabby_Shirley_) February 28, 2022
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Mathieu Joseph
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Ross Colton - Anthony Cirelli - Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote
Ottawa Senators Projected Lines
Brady Tkachuk - Tim Stutzle - Adam Gaudette
Zach Sanford - Nick Paul - Connor Brown
Alex Formenton - Chris Tierney - Tyler Ennis
Parker Kelly - Colin White - Austin Watson
Erik Brannstrom - Artem Zub
Nick Holden - Josh Brown
Dylan Gambrell - Victor Mete