The Tampa Bay Lightning finish a long five-day stretch of no hockey as they head to Las Vegas to face off against the Vegas Golden Knights. Both these teams have been dominant in their conferences, with the Lightning sitting third in the Eastern Conference, and the Knights sitting in second in the Western Conference.
The Lightning, who sit on a 19-6-4 record, come off a victory against the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning would have faced the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, but the game was postponed due to COVID concerns. The Knights, who sit on a 20-11-0 record, have had a dominating stretch since the returns of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. This game marks the final game before the NHL shuts down until Christmas.
The Lightning have had a dominating season so far despite the losses of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Erik Cernak. Even with all these players out, as well as games missed by Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph, the Lightning have played exceptionally well on offense. The defense has shined recently, keeping games close when the offense struggles. Tampa Bay has allowed just three goals over the last six periods of play.
These are the top three players (points) for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Steven Stamkos: 13G 21A 34P
Victor Hedman: 7G 23A 30P
Alex Killorn: 9G 15A 24P
The offense on the Lightning has had its struggles since losing Kucherov and Point but has played very well without these two in the lineup. The help from the defense has given the offense the chances it needs without Kucherov, a top 5 player in the league, and Point, one of the fastest players in the league with an ability to score and create for others.
The defense, as mentioned before, has helped the Lightning a lot on offense, but has also helped Vasilevskiy not face 40 shots a game. At the start of the season, the Lightning were getting outshot heavily, but the defense has made sure to fix the mistakes they made to start the season and now has some of the best defense in the league.
The Golden Knights had a rough start to the season, and many fans thought they might miss the playoffs this year. Then Pacioretty came back, and the Golden Knights became a top team once again. This team just can’t be bad, no matter what. With the addition of Jack Eichel in early 2022, who knows that will happen with this team.
These are the top three players (points) for the Vegas Golden Knights
Chandler Stephenson: 9G 21A 30P
Reilly Smith: 10G 14A 24P
Alex Pietrangelo: 5G 17A 22P
The Golden Knights offense has been a surprise. Nobody expected to see Chandler Stephenson, a bottom 6 player, to be so dominant. With multiple top players out for the Golden Knights, Stephenson has stepped it up, and it is fun watching this team play once again.
The Golden Knights defense is filled with superstars, yet they’re not playing to their full potential. That’s the only complaint, which is barely a complaint because this defense is scary, and no team wants to go up against a defense that strong. Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore lead the way on the Vegas back end.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.10 GAA, .928sv%) will most likely start in net for the Lightning, while Robin Lehner (3.03 GAA, .905sv%) will likely start in net for the Golden Knights. It’s a mix between him and Laurent Brossoit (2.54 GAA, .913sv%), as Brossoit has overall played better than Lehner. With such a big game, it’s hard to tell who will start for them.
Score: 6-5 SO Golden Knights
Shots: 32 Lightning/35 Golden Knights
Top Performer: Victor Hedman (2G 1A 3P)
Overall Performance: A
These two teams are both very good, but with the Lightning having key players out, the Golden Knights have a slight advantage over them. While the Lightning will play very well, the Golden Knights healthiness will help them win the game.