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Lightning at Sharks preview

Tampa Bay starts three-game California trip; San Jose goes for fifth straight win

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

LIGHTNING (11-2-2) AT SHARKS (8-5-0)

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV

 

The Game

The San Jose Sharks will try for their fifth straight win when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL's highest-scoring team, at SAP Center on Wednesday.

It's the first of a three-game California trip for Tampa Bay, which is 7-1-2 in its past 10 games; the Sharks are 7-3-0 in their past 10. The Lightning average an NHL-best 3.87 goals per game. The Sharks give up 2.31 goals per game, second-fewest in the League to the Los Angeles Kings (2.27).

Lightning center Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in scoring with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists), and linemate Nikita Kucherov is second with 23 points (14 goals, nine assists). Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (11-1-1) will make his 14th start.

The Sharks will likely have shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (concussion) back in the lineup after a one-game absence. Goaltender Martin Jones (7-3-0) will make his 11th start.

 

Players to watch

Lightning forward Yanni Gourde, a former Sharks prospect, has scored a goal in each of the past three games after scoring one goal in the first 12.

Jones went 3-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .938 save percentage and was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week.

 

They said it

"They're a really good defensive team, a really good penalty kill. I think we have to be ready for a physical game, a tight-checking game. We're going to have to use our speed ... and try not to get frustrated with their defense." -- Lightning center Brayden Point on the Sharks

"They're the highest-scoring team in the league. We had Toronto come in here a week or so ago. At that point they were right there, one or two. Similar-type team. This is probably a better, more-refined version of that, so it's going to be a great test." -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer on the Lightning

 

Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz -- Tyler Johnson -- Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Andrej Sustr, Gabriel Dumont

Injured: Cedric Paquette (upper body)

 

Sharks projected lineup

Joonas Donskoi -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl

Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Jannik Hansen -- Barclay Goodrow -- Joel Ward

Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Tim Heed

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Ryan Carpenter, Dylan DeMelo

Injured: Paul Martin (ankle)

 

Status report

The Lightning are expected to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with Koekkoek replacing Sustr as the seventh defenseman. Dumont is likely to be scratched for a second straight game. ... Hansen will return to the lineup after being scratched for six straight games.

 

Stat pack

Kunitz is expected to play his 900th NHL game. … Thornton has 1,014 career assists, two shy of tying Joe Sakic for 12th place on the NHL's all-time list.

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