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game preview

Lightning at Sharks preview

Tampa Bay eyes 15th win in 18 games; San Jose's Thornton two points from 1,500 in NHL

by Ross McKeon / Independent Correspondent

LIGHTNING (31-15-5) at SHARKS (22-26-4)

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to win for the 15th time in 18 games when they visit the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday.

The Lightning, who have won two straight, are 4-2-1 in their past seven games and 14-2-1 in their past 17.

Tampa Bay can improve to 8-0-0 this season against Pacific Division teams; it has won 10 straight against the Pacific dating back to Feb. 12, 2019.

Goalie Curtis McElhinney is expected to start after Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves in a 4-3 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Friday that extended his point streak to 15 games (13-0-2).

Sharks center Joe Thornton is two points shy of becoming the 14th player in NHL history to reach 1,500 points. He has 1,498 points (415 goals, 1,083 assists) in 1,618 League games.

San Jose is 1-4-0 in its past five games after going 5-2-1 in its previous eight.


Players to watch

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in a six-game point streak, including multiple points in his past five.

Sharks forward Patrick Marleau is one goal shy of passing Mike Modano (561) for sole possession of 25th place on the NHL all-time list.


They said it 

"Playing these West teams is hard. It's a different mentality over here. Every team plays a hard, heavy, grinding, big-body kind of hockey. I think we've done a good job of managing it and pushing back." -- Lightning forward Pat Maroon

"We've been kicked a little bit with the injuries, and you have two choices how you want to handle it. We're going with the option to come to the rink every day and work hard together. We talked about being more detailed and structured than the opponent and we control our compete. That's what we're going to focus on." -- Sharks coach Bob Boughner


Lightning projected lineup

Steven Stamkos -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Anthony Cirelli -- Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn -- Cedric Paquette -- Pat Maroon

Carter Verhaeghe -- Mitchell Stephens -- Yanni Gourde

Victor Hedman -- Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn

Injured: None


Sharks projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Barclay Goodrow -- Timo Meier

Patrick Marleau -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Marcus Sorensen -- Antti Suomela -- Dylan Gambrell   

Melker Karlsson -- Joel Kellman -- Stefan Noesen

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Erik Karlsson

Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns

Radim Simek -- Mario Ferraro

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Tim Heed

Injured: Logan Couture (fractured ankle), Tomas Hertl (knee), Dalton Prout (upper body)


Status report

The Lightning did not hold a morning skate. … Hertl is expected to have season-ending surgery on Monday to repair his torn right ACL and MCL. … Goodrow moves into Hertl's spot as first-line center. … Suomela will play for the first time in three games.   


Stat pack

Stamkos has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in a six-game point streak and 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 16 games against San Jose. … Erik Karlsson has 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 34 games against Tampa Bay in his NHL career.

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