Following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to win the series against the Devils tonight.
Though they were unable to secure the two points on Thursday against the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the rubber match against the New Jersey Devils tonight as the two teams face off for third and final time this season.
As one would expect, these teams are familiar with each other, especially after meeting two times in the opening month of the season. In the first match-up, the Lightning overcame a two-goal deficit and scored three unanswered goals, including one in the third period, to emerge with a 3-2 victory at Amalie Arena.
That was the second game of the season and it was a bit more evenly matched than their second meeting in New Jersey. Despite earning the win, the Lightning tied the Devils in shots and hits and both teams finished 0-for-3 on the Power Play.
However, in the second game of the series, the Lightning came out and played one of their sloppiest and more uninspiring games of the season and fell flat, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Devils. Prior to that game, the Lightning lost by the same score two nights prior against the Montreal Canadiens and were in the midst of a six-game road trip.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Hopefully, the Tampa Bay Lightning will start tonight’s game with a bit more passion and grab the lead early on like they did in the final game of the road trip against the New York Islanders. The team scored three goals in the first period of that game, which is something its done twice already this season.
In any matter, before the game starts tonight, let’s take a look at what both teams have done since the last meeting on Oct. 29.
Following their 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Devils had four days off before traveling down to South Florida to take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday. New Jersey fell 4-3 in overtime to the Panthers and finished with 34 shots, 13 hits, 11 blocked shots and went 1-for-4 on the Power Play, but gave up two out of three on the Penalty Kill in the loss.
The Devils also suffered their first two-goal deficit of the season and made a comeback forcing OT, but ultimately they would have to settle for just a point.
As for the Lightning, they played three games in that same span and won only one of them, which was against the Islanders on Tuesday, as mentioned before. The team nearly tallied another win on Thursday but fell short in the shootout against the Bruins.
Head to head, the Tampa Bay Lightning have six wins, 13 points and sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with a plus-2 goal differential, while the New Jersey Devils have four wins, 11 points and sit in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division with a plus-1 goal differential.
On the more enhanced side of things, the Lightning as a team is scoring an average of 3.18 goals per game and giving up an even 3.00 goals per game, converting on 26.7 percent of its Power Plays, killing off 88.2 percent of its penalties and is giving up around 29.8 shots per game, which is middle of the pack in that regard.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils is scoring an average of 2.33 goals per game and giving up 2.22 goals per game, converting on 23.3 percent of its Power Plays, killing off 81.3 percent of its penalties and is giving up around 31.2 shots per game.
In terms of possession, the Lightning is just above 50 percent in SAT% and dead-even in USAT%, while the Devils is below 50 percent in both categories. Additionally, the Devils as a team is shooting at 5.5 percent at 5-on-5, which close to last in the league, and the Lightning is shooting at just about 7.8 percent at 5-on-5.
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Once the puck drops tonight, I expect it to be another close game goal-wise, as the two previous games have been. With Ben Bishop in the net for Tampa Bay and Cory Schneider in net for New Jersey, it’s likely this will be another low scoring affair.
Speaking of Bishop, the Lightning’s top netminder got two new front teeth on Wednesday after spending a few hours in the dentist’s office, which is great to hear.
Some things to watch for tonight is how the special teams on both sides come into play and how the Tampa Bay Lightning start tonight, as they’ve struggled a bit in the first period for most of the season.
In addition, two players to watch out for in this final meeting of the season will be Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who had four points against the Islanders on Tuesday and is scoring at a 1.30 points per game rate, which is second on the team, and New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson, who leads the team with eight points while scoring at a 0.89 points per game rate, and is at 52.76 percent in SAT while the game is tied, which is interesting to note.
Not to forget, Tampa Bay Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos is tied for the league lead in goals with seven in 11 games and currently has 13 points, which is tied for second in the NHL behind Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov. Though they’ll have Stamkos and the rest of the crew, the Lightning will be without forward Jonathan Drouin, who is considered day-to-day after sustaining a hit from Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan.
Before the Lightning head out for one game on the road, they’ll look to finish off the Devils this season and pick up their first series win of the year. It’ll likely be another tight game, with one team likely getting by with a one or two goal lead. With Montreal surging, despite suffering a lopsided 10-0 loss to the Blue Jackets last night, it’ll be important to continue closing the gap as the season moves along.
You won’t want to miss this final meeting of the season between the Lightning and Devils, so be sure to tune in at 7 p.m. locally on Fox Sports Sun and Lightning Radio on 970 WFLA. If you aren’t able to watch at home, you can watch the entire game on the run with Fox Sports Go online or on your phone or tablet. As always, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the team and more. Go Bolts!
Projected Lines (subject to change):
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Tyler Johnson – Brayden Point
Ryan Callahan – Valtteri Filppula – Vlad Namestnikov
J.T. Brown – Brian Boyle – Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman – Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison – Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn – Nikita Nesterov
New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall – Travis Zajac – P.A Parenteau
Mike Camalleri – Adam Henrique – Kyle Palmieri
Beau Bennett – Pavel Zacha – Devonte Smith-Pelley
Nick Lappin – Vernon Fiddler – Sergey Kalinin
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Ben Lovejoy – Yohann Auvitu
Kyle Quincey – John Moore