Game 23 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Anaheim Ducks

The Tampa Bay Lightning (14-8-0, 28 PTS), despite an effort that was easier to stomach and a few silver linings, was on the losing end of another lopsided result last night and thus will have to try to salvage something out of its current road trip with tonight’s finale against the Anaheim Ducks (15-6-3, 33 PTS).

Both teams are looking to get back on the winning track. The Bolts, currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, last tasted victory after the first meeting between the two clubs. The Ducks have yet to win since the loss in Tampa and have lost five-straight overall, with the latest defeat coming on Wednesday after, having gone into a defensive shell, botching a chance to close out the Devils. The week-plus stretch has seen both teams cede the top spot in their respective divisions and conferences but the good news for each is they have not fallen by the wayside…yet.

In trying to right its ship, Tampa Bay faces a squad for which, recent woes aside, most of the prior observations remain the same — its penalty-killing has been crummy and power play erratic but there’s plenty to like about the Ducks’ even-strength play, even if the possession numbers have cooled off since the heady start the Ducks got off to early in the season. Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, of course, make for a stout foundation in net.

Unlike Tampa Bay, which is going to be missing Steven Stamkos’ presence for quite a bit longer, Anaheim will have its franchise center, Ryan Getzlaf, back in the mix, though Jakob Silfverberg and Saku Koivu remain out. It will be interesting to see what lineup head coach Jon Cooper decides to roll with, particularly as to whether Andrej Sustr will be re-inserted after sitting the last two games and how young forward Brett Connolly will be utilized (or whether he is at all) given the reduced role and minutes he played last night. The Lightning opted to reassign Brett Connolly, who had struggled in his latest stint with the big club, to AHL Syracuse ahead of tonight’s matches for both teams.

A combination of bad breaks and miscues have prevented the Lightning from coming out of the gate cleanly and avoid falling behind early over the past three games. After surrendering six goals and scoring eleven in 209 minutes played with the game tight (i.e. “Close”) and at evens during the seven previous matches, Tampa Bay has allowed six goals while scoring none in just 39 minutes in the same game state. Just getting out of the first dozen minutes tied tonight would near cause for celebration.

During this road trip, the Lightning have alternately been outclassed and out-lucked, with intermittent stretches of decent play it hasn’t been rewarded for. There’s no need to dwell much further on this one. It’s not a must-win for the Bolts but it’d be nice to see the club preserve a bit of the cushion it built up for itself in the first two ten-game segments of the season with it set to have a couple days to regroup and try to make the most of some pending home cooking against the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins.

NOTES

Season Series

TAMPA BAY LEADS 1-0
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Rosters

LIGHTNING DUCKS
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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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DUCKS
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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