Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: UBS Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, MSG+ 2, ESPN+
Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey
Look at us. We made it.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have made it to the end of an 82-game regular season. They’ve had their ups and downs. There have been good times (records set!) and bad times (so many injuries). They have one last outing tonight against the New York Islanders before they can start the march through the postseason. As tough as things have been on a day-to-day basis the Lightning have a chance to hit 110 points which would be the third most in franchise history.
What is on the line tonight? Not much in reality. The Lightning are in the playoffs, that’s all that really matters. If they win they play the Toronto Maple Leafs. If they lose (and Boston wins) they play the Carolina Hurricanes. Both will be tough, but winnable match-ups and both will start on the road. So outside of the fun fact that they can end the Islanders season with a loss for the third year in a row (the last two being in the playoffs) not much is on the line.
The Lightning are looking to get through the game healthy and to find that sense of urgency that is vital to playoff success. After the loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday Coach Cooper was asked what was missing in the game, “Effort,” was his one-word answer. He trusts that his veteran-laden team will bounce back with a better game tonight.
As for the Islanders, they are coming off a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals (who were also fighting for playoff positioning) as Mathew Barzal posted three assists. They may be out of the playoff hunt, but they are embracing the roll of semi-spolier and have a chance to end the season with a win. The Lightning have taken the two previous meetings by identical 4-1 scores.
The Lightning will likely roll out their regular line-up and expect Andrei Vasilevskiy to be in net for one last tune-up before the postseason. Jan Rutta has been held out for precautionary reasons over the last two games, but is expected to be back for Game One at the latest.
Potential Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul - Brayden Point - Ross Colton
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Brandon Hagel
Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - Cal Foote/Jan Rutta
Mikhail Sergachev - Zach Bogosian
Potential New York Islanders Lines
Kieffer Bellows - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Zach Parise - Mathew Barzal - Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Anthony Beauvillier
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Oliver Wahlstrom
Zdeno Chara - Noah Dobson
Adam Pelech - Robin Salo
Andy Greene - Sebastian Aho