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Avalanche at Lightning Preview: Kucherov vs. MacKinnon – Ready for it?

Nov 27, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) makes a save on Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) in the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Game #55
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, ALT, ESPN+, Hulu

Opponent’s Site: Puck Yeti


While tonight’s A storyline is going to be a battle of the top-two point producers in the league in Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon, there is also a nice B plot in the return of two old friends. Ross Colton will be playing his first game in Amalie Arena in another team’s uniform so fans should be ready for another video tribute. In addition to Ross the Boss, Jonathan Drouin is back as well. The former first round pick is having a bounce-back season with the Avs with 10 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. It’s already his highest point total since the 2018-19 season.

Drouin, who was signed with the hope he could provide some depth scoring has worked his way onto the top line with his old buddy from junior hockey, MacKinnon. Meanwhile, the Avs traded for Colton so he could secure the middle of the ice in a bottom-six role. He’s worked his way up the line-up as well, centering the second line in their last game. Colton has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 52 games. Prior to their most recent road trip, Colton had a nice three-game stretch where he had 6 assists in 3 games.

Speaking of the road trip, things kind of went off of the rails as they lost the first four games. A win in Washington, D.C. stopped the bleeding, but even if they do manage to beat the Bolts tonight, a 2-4 road trip is not what their fans were hoping for. The losses have dropped them out of first place in the Central Division, as the Dallas Stars passed them in the standings.

All of that is nice, but everyone is tuning in for the battle of number one and number two in the NHL points race. Nikita Kucherov is in the lead with 90 points in 53 games, but MacKinnon is right behind him with 87 points in 54 games. Since January 1st, both players have 29 points with Kuch doing it in 16 games while MacKinnon has played 17 times. As a side note, they are not the most productive players since January 1st, that honor would go to Matthew Tkachuk who has 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 17 games. The Bolts will see him on Saturday.

Both players will likely downplay the head-to-head match-up, and stress the importance of the team playing well and getting the win, but as fans we don’t have to care about that. We can revel in the race and hope that Kucherov emerges on top at the end of the season.

Tampa Bay will need Kucherov to be at the top of his game as they need to keep winning in order to hold onto their spot in the Atlantic Division. Toronto, with three games in hand again, is only a point behind them and Detroit, with two games in hand, is three points back of the Lightning. Back in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena for the next four games, the Bolts have a chance to solidify their spot in the standings.

Here’s hoping Kuch and the rest of the team can rack up the points and the wins.

Stats Match-up

Game #55Tampa Bay LightningColorado Avalanche
Overall Record29-20-533-17-4
Home Record17-5-320-5-0
Road Record12-15-213-12-4
Goals For*183200
Goals Against177171
Power Play30.7%24.1%
Penalty Kill81.6%81.3%
Last 10 Games7-3-05-4-1
*True goals per Natural Stat Trick (does not include shootout goals). Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick.


Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Steven Stamkos – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Nick Paul
Mikey Eyssimont – Tyler Motte – Conor Sheary

Tanner Jeannot (?) – Luke Glendening – Mitchell Chaffee

Victor Hedman – Darren Raddysh
Haydn Fleury – Erik Cernak
Emil Lilleberg – Nick Perbix

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jonas Johansson

Colorado Avalanche Projected Lines

Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

Arturri Lehkonen – Ross Colton – Miles Wood

Joel Kiviranta – Fredrik Olofsson – Zach Parise

Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Johansen – Kurtis MacDermid

Devon Toews – Cale Makar

Samuel Girard – Josh Manson

Bowen Byram – Jack Johnson

Alexander Georgiev

Justus Annunen

The Playoff Race

Atlantic DivisionGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
Boston Bruins5332-11-107429
Florida Panthers5334-15-47229
Wild CardGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
Toronto Maple Leafs5127-16-86231
Detroit Red Wings5227-19-66030
New Jersey Devils5227-21-45830
Top 3 teams in the Atlantic make the playoffs, top two wild card teams also make the playoffs
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