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Tampa Bay Lightning at Minnesota Wild Preview and Game Day Thread

Why not make it two out of two?

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Minnesota Wild: GAME# 37

Time: 9:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Xcel Energy Center

Broadcast/Streaming: TNT, TVAS, Sling TV

Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness

Draftkings Line: Lightning +1.5 O/U 6.5

Preview:

After rebounding from a sluggish start against the Chicago Blackhawks last night to keep their string of success going in the United Center, the Lightning hope to find a win in a building where they haven’t been quite as successful. They have a dismal 2-11-2 record in the North Star State. The last time they won in the Twin Cities was April 2nd, 2011, a 3-1 win featuring goals from Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, and Sean Bergenheim.

It’s also the second game of a back-to-back series for the Lightning, the 7th one they’ve already had this season. So far they are 3-3 in the back half of these doubleheaders while they are 5-2 in the front half. Unfortunately, in one of those quirks of the schedule, they will be facing a well-rested team as the Wild haven’t played since December 31st, a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota needed that rest as they’ve had a few players banged up over the season. Marcus Foligno (3 goals, 8 assists) missed some time with an injury and Joel Eriksson Ek (12 goals, 16 assists) has also been nursing an injury. Unfortunately, their availability allowed former Lightning draft pick Sammy Walker to be loaned back to Iowa in the AHL and he won’t be facing his former franchise.

Much like the Lightning, the Wild rely on their top line for much of their offense. Kirill Kaprizov (20 goals, 25 assists) and Mats Zuccarello (16 goals, 24 assists) pace an offense that is 18th in the league with 3.14 goals per game. Their power play is solid at 23.3%, but most worrisome for the Lightning may be the fact that they’ve scored 6 shorthanded goals, second in the league behind the Flyers and Golden Knights who are tied with 7.

The Lightning keep motoring along as they’re now on a four-game winning streak and it’s the big names keeping them in the win column. Brayden Point is on a five-game point streak (5 goals, 2 assists) while Brandon Hagel has pointed in 8 of his last 11 (8 goals, 5 assists). Steven Stamkos is slowly marching to 500 goals with just 1 goal in his last 9 games, but he does have points in his last 4 (1 goal, 4 assists). Victor Hedman had 2 more assists last night and since December 6th is tied with Nikita Kucherov in helpers with 15.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is on a roll and will be in net and looking to even his career record against one of the few franchises he has a losing mark against. Coming into tonight’s action he is 3-4-2 in 9 games against the Wild with a .918 SV% and 2.53 GAA. However, he has never won at the Xcel Center, going 0-2-2 with a .908 SV% and 3.18 GAA in his previous 4 outings there.

It’s the Nick Perbix homecoming game! For the first time in his NHL career, the Elk River native will be playing in his home state. There will likely be plenty of friends and family in the crowd to see the defenseman, who also went to St. Cloud State in Minnesota, play against the hometown Wild. Who knows, maybe it’ll be emotional enough that the calm, collected Perbix may even crack a smile.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Minnesota Wild Comparison

Game #37 Tampa Bay Lightning Minnesota Wild
Game #37 Tampa Bay Lightning Minnesota Wild
Overall Record 24-11-1 21-13-2
Home Record 15-4-1 11-7-1
Road Record 9-7-0 10-6-1
Goals For 130 116
Goals Against 103 102
xGF 124.98 112.7
xGA 113.11 100.47
PP% 27.6% 23.3%
PK% 82.2% 79.7%
Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos- Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Pat Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Minnesota Wild Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Kirill Kaprizov - Sam Steel - Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksen-Ek - Marcus Foligno

Matt Boldy - Frederick Gaudreau - Ryan Hartman

Mason Shaw - Connor Dewar - Ryan Reaves

Defense Pairings

Jacob Middleton - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill - Calen Addison

Goalies

Marc-Andre Fleury

Filip Gustavsson