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Tampa Bay Lightning
37-18-4 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
19-6-6 (1st in Metropolitan Division)
Nikita Kucherov (102)
Martin Necas ()
Brayden Point (45)
Andrei Svechnikov ()
Nikita Kucherov (74)
Brent Burns ()
Brandon Hagel (20)
Brady Skjei ()
Nikita Kucherov (3.32)
Shots (Per Game)
Martin Necas ()
The Tampa Bay Lightning will travel to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes for the third time this season. The Hurricanes won the first two matchups by scores of 4-3 and 6-0, respectively.
The Lightning have not clinched a Playoff spot yet but will do so soon. They are in third place in the Atlantic Division with 90 points and will probably finish the season there. Tampa is seven points behind the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs and has an 11-point lead over the fourth-place Florida Panthers. On the other side, the Hurricanes have clinched a Playoff spot and are in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points. With that being said, they only have a three-point lead over the second-place New Jersey Devils, so a win today is important.
The Lightning are struggling but are still a dangerous team. Their offensive output is far above the league average. Defensively, they are mediocre, but they have a handful of scorers that have made them successful this season. In addition, the Lightning have a top-ten netminder in Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning are led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman. These four make for a good mix of veterans and younger players. More importantly, they have all seen success with the Lightning and know what it takes to win it all.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the start in Tampa for the Lightning. His 31 wins are tied for the fifth-most in the NHL, and his .914 save percentage is tied for the 12th-highest.
The Hurricanes’ offense is a touch slower than the Lightnings’, but they make up for it on the defensive end. Carolina allows less than 2.6 goals per game and has not allowed over three goals in their past four games. Carolina is having a fantastic season and has all the pieces to win it all.
The Hurricanes are seeing strong seasons from Martin Necas, Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Brent Burns. Each player has at least 54 points and 29 assists.
Frederik Andersen will probably get the start for the Hurricanes. Andersen has had flashes of dominance but also had his struggles. His .904 save percentage is the 29th-highest in the NHL.
The Hurricanes have a home-ice advantage, have beaten the Lightning twice this season, and are the better team at this moment. Bet on them to win this game.
The Lightning are the underdogs but will win if they draw penalties and score the first goal.
The Lightning are a great team but going through a slump. They have lost their previous four games and had limited scoring in that time. Tampa has only scored seven times in this losing streak and must turn around their offense this game. They can do that by drawing penalties and scoring a power-play goal. This should not be too difficult. The Lightning have the fifth-best power-play unit in the NHL and convert 25% of their opportunities. If this unit plays efficiently, Tampa will have a chance.
The Lightning failed to score the first goal in three of their four previous losses. That is not the lost reason they lost, but it played a large role. Tampa Must flip the script today and strike first. If they do, they will significantly increase their chances of winning.
The Hurricanes are favorites but can improve their chances if they slow down Nikita Kucherov and have strong goaltending.
Nikita Kucherov has been the Lightning’s top player this season. Kucherov leads Tampa in points (102) and assists (74) and must be slowed down. It does not take much for him to heat up, so the Hurricanes’ defensemen must make him priority #1 and try to take him out of the picture as much as possible.
The Hurricanes may be facing a Lightning team struggling lately, but Tampa has a strong offense. This could be the game where they return to form. If that does happen, the Hurricanes better have a competent goaltender in net who can hold his own.
Brayden Point is having a fantastic season. He leads the Lighting in goals with 45 and also has 38 assists. More importantly, he has two goals in his previous three games. Point is a dangerous player and has momentum. He must play to his potential in this game to give his team a chance.
Sebastian Aho is a leader on this Hurricanes team and has been playing like one lately. He has 33 goals on the season but also has three goals in his previous three games.
Aho does not need to change much heading into this game. He just needs to keep playing up to his potential and take good shots.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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