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Point out, Coleman to make Lightning debut tonight at Vegas

Point will miss tonight's game against the Golden Knights as he recovers from the flu

by Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL /

For the rest of the season, Tampa Bay Lightning skaters should probably avoid building a double-digit point streak.

First, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (10 games) and Nikita Kucherov (12 games) saw long scoring runs stopped after suffering lower-body injuries last week.

Now, Brayden Point is the latest Lightning player to have his point streak come to an end due to circumstances beyond his control.

Point did not practice with the Lightning Wednesday, the team saying he was taking a rest day, and he was also absent for the Bolts' morning skate Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

Video: Preview | Lightning at Golden Knights

According to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, Point has been dealing with the flu and will not play in Las Vegas. Point had recorded points in 11-straight games, a career long point streak in which he amassed three goals and 12 assists over that stretch. Point ranks tied for second in the NHL for assists (19) in 2020 and fifth in the League for 2020 scoring (6-19-25 pts.).

"He's been battling the flu bug for two days," Cooper said. "He just has no energy or strength. He'll be out tonight."

Point leads the Lightning for assists during their 11-game win streak (12 assists total).

"Pointer's a huge part of our team, drives the bus, does so many things well for us," Anthony Cirelli said. "It's just that next-man-up mentality. We have such a deep team we've just got to go out there and play our game, stick to our game plan. Guys have done well coming in and making an impact."

Point's absence won't impact the Lightning lineup too much as far as line combinations are concerned. Blake Coleman will make his Tampa Bay debut tonight in Las Vegas and will slot in as the third line left wing alongside Mitchell Stephens (center) and Yanni Gourde (right wing). Tyler Johnson will move up into Point's spot centering the top line with Steven Stamkos (left wing) and Nikita Kucherov (right wing). Pat Maroon (left wing), Cedric Paquette (center) and Carter Verhaeghe (right wing) form the Bolts' fourth line.

Once Point returns, it remains to be seen which forward will come out of the lineup now that the Lightning have 13 forwards on the roster with Coleman's addition.

"He's a great skater. He's got a good shot. He's tough to play against," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said of Coleman. "We're obviously very happy to have him on our side. We're looking forward to seeing him in action tonight, and we think he's going to be a great fit for our group."

The Lightning will likely have Braydon Coburn back for tonight's contest at Vegas. The veteran defenseman missed the win in Colorado with a lower-body injury but skated fully yesterday during the team's practice session and was back in his familiar spot alongside Luke Schenn on the Bolts' third defensive pair at Thursday's morning skate.

As for tonight's opponent, the Golden Knights have a habit of overwhelming teams at the beginning of games, particularly at home, and using that hot start to play from in front. The Golden Knights were one of the fastest teams the Lightning have faced this season. Sixteen days ago at AMALIE Arena, the Bolts broke open a 2-2 game in third period, Stamkos scoring the go-ahead goal at 10:36 and Alex Killorn adding an empty-netter with 45 seconds left to prevail and collect the Bolts' fourth win on their current franchise-record 11-game win streak.. Tampa Bay has grabbed a point in its last three meetings with Vegas, going 2-0-1 over those three contests.

Video: Cooper | Pregame at VGK

"We saw it when they played us a few weeks ago, I think this is as good a team as we've seen all year," Cooper said. "They can skate. They've got skill. They compete. They're not sneaking up on anybody. They're outstanding. The run we've been on, we had one of our wins against them but anybody who watched it knows Vegas maybe deserved to get some points out of that game."

Added Hedman: "We've got to go out there and play our game. We know from previous experiences in their building they come out fast. We've got to be ready from the start and go out there and play our game like we have in the past, try and dictate the play. We're playing a great team in their barn, but we've done a good job on the road to play our style of game that we want and looking to continue that today."

The Lightning can match another franchise record tonight if they pull out a victory. The Bolts' have won six-straight road contests and can tie the team mark for most consecutive road wins, set previously Jan. 7-Feb. 1, 2007, with a victory over the Golden Knights.

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