Game 21 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Los Angeles Kings

After enduring a swift correction to its recent spell of puck-luck during an agonizing visit to the Arizona desert, the Tampa Bay Lightning (14-6-0, 28 PTS) find themselves the guests of the Los Angeles Kings (14-6-1, 29 PTS), winners of three-straight after goose-egging the Rangers on Sunday night.

This will be the last of the two meetings between the two clubs, which battled in Tampa several weeks ago with the Lightning, propped up by a couple early strikes and a crucial third goal after weathering a (likely score-effects induced) Kings surge, taking a decisive and widely-unexpected decision.

Like Tampa Bay, Los Angeles has been hit with a substantial injury. Jonathan Quick, its Cup-winning goaltender, is out with a strained groin and his absence, expected for at least a handful of weeks, leaves Ben Scrivens, backed by call-up Martin Jones, to hold the fort. If opponents were hoping to catch a break in not having to face Quick when they played the Kings this season, they might be rethinking that wish.

Small sample size aside (he’s only appeared in eight games), Scrivens — traded to the Kings as part of a package for Jonathan Bernier during the off-season — has been superb for his new club when in net; he’s won four of the five starts he’s made, is sporting very healthy goals-against averages and save percentages in all game states and has shutouts in three of those five starts. Prior to tonight’s showdown, Scrivens hasn’t surrendered a goal since the first handful of minutes in the the second period of a win against the Islanders three games ago.

Scrivens has enjoyed slightly slightly better puck-luck than Quick but his results are almost luck-neutral, particularly at evens. His save percentages should regress a bit with more exposure but he might, countering this, see an uptick in his team’s even-strength shooting percentages while he’s in net, something Quick also stands to benefit from. Jones, meanwhile, has yet to make an appearance.

If the Kings skaters have lacked in the finishing department, they have made up for it with the play in front of their net. LA, which boasts — with Justin Williams, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar — the current number one, two and three in the league in terms of on-ice percentage of attempts for, is near the top of the league at generating shot attempts while among the best at suppressing opponent attempts. The result is a top-notch differential that gives you some semblance of the relatively charmed life in net LA’s goalies often enjoy with the balance of play taking play in the other end the majority of the time. It gives you a good idea as how to the Kings have been able to sustain their winning ways over the past few seasons.

So, tonight’s tilt, it’s safe to say, is a tough draw at a distant barn. It also signals the beginning of a new 10-game season segment. The Lightning earned 14 points in each of the first two, giving the club a slight cushion when it comes to setting itself up for playoff contention, but subsequent matches against the Sharks and Ducks means some more tough-sledding yet to come on this road swing.

NOTES

Season Series

TAMPA BAY LEADS 1-0
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Rosters

LIGHTNING KINGS
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STATPACK

 

Team

TOI, POSSESSION & SCORING TOTALS
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POSSESSION & SCORING RATES
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POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING PERCENTAGES
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Special Teams

POWER PLAY
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PENALTY KILL
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Goaltending

ON-ICE TOTALS
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ON-ICE RATES
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ON-ICE PERCENTAGES
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Scoring

LIGHTNING
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KINGS
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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