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Lightning at Blue Jackets preview

Kucherov trying to score in eighth straight to begin season for Tampa Bay; Columbus eyes fastest start in its history

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (5-1-1) at BLUE JACKETS (5-1-0)

7 p.m. ET; FS-O, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov will try to score a goal in his eighth straight game to tie the third-longest streak to start a season in NHL history when the Lightning visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Kucherov, who has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) and is tied for the League scoring lead with Lightning center Steven Stamkos (two goals, 10 assists), can equal the mark set by Edmonton Oilers center Wayne Gretzky, who scored at least one goal in each of the first eight games of the 1983-84 season.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux scored at least one goal in the first 12 games of the 1992-93 season, and New York Islanders forward Mike Bossy scored at least one goal in the first 10 games in 1984-85.

The Lightning are looking for their best start since going 7-0-1 in 2003-04.

The Blue Jackets, aiming for their fifth straight win, can set a Columbus record with a 6-1-0 start, which would surpass their 5-2-0 start in 2009-10.


Players to watch

Stamkos has opened the season with a seven-game point streak, including five points (one goal, four assists) in his past two games.

Blue Jackets second-year defenseman Zach Werenski has four points (two goals, two assists) in a three-game point streak with goals in his past two games. He has five points (three goals, two assists) in six games this season.


They said it

"I like where we're sitting points-wise, but for this game it's really a bit of a barometer test for us to see where we are because these guys, you talk about the top three teams in the League, you have to put Columbus in there." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

"When their players are feeling it and you give them an opportunity on the power play, they make things happen. Our goal is not to take any penalties. That's the best penalty kill." - Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones on the Tampa Bay's 25.8-percent power play, 10th in the NHL


Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette -- Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson -- Andrej Sustr

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Dan Girardi

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Gabriel Dumont, Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Erik Condra (back)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert -- Nick Foligno -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Sonny Milano -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Josh Anderson

Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Lukas Sedlak -- Zac Dalpe

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Ryan Murray -- Markus Nutivaara

Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Markus Hannikainen

Injured: Boone Jenner (back), Sam Vigneault (hand), Gabriel Carlsson (upper body)


Status report

Vasilevskiy and Bobrovsky will start after each was rested in games on Tuesday.


Stat pack

Tampa Bay has scored at least one power-play goal in each of its first seven games and can break its franchise record for most consecutive games with a power-play goal to start a season (2002-03 and 2000-01). … Panarin has five points (one goal, four assists) during a three-game point streak. Bobrovsky is 4-0-0 with a 1.47 goals-against average and one shutout.

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