Sunday evening National Hockey League action and the Atlantic Division will square off with the Pacific Division as the Tampa Bay Lightning Rumble with the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The Bolts enter this game having won their last three in a row, including taking a 5-2 decision at Los Angeles in their last game, while the Ducks are off a 4-1 home win over Vancouver. Goalie Probables: The Lightning will send out Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Ducks will counter with Reto Berra.
Bolts Jump On Kings Early In Big Road Win
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league right now and they have shown that on this trip with wins over San Jose and Los Angeles to start it and both wins were rather easy. In their last game, they took on the Kings and won that game by a score of 5-2. They started out fast in that game as they scored four goals in the first 11:29 of the game and never looked back. The Lightning have now won three in a row and lead the league in points with 28. They have scored five goals in three straight games and will now be taking on an Anaheim team that is having injury woes in the crease. Scoring in the win over the Bolts was Nikita Kucherov, which was his league-leading 16th of the year, Alex Killorn, which was his 2nd of the year, Victor Hedman, which was his 2nd of the year, Steven Stamkos, which was his 8th and Vladislav Namestnikov, which was his 8th. Grabbing the win against the Kings was Peter Budaj, who stopped 22 of the 24 shots that he faced to move to 1-2 with a 3.33 GAA and a .873 save percentage on the year. Andrei Vasilevskiy will be back in the crease for this one and he has gone 12-2 with 2.41 GAA and a .928 save percentage on the year, including 5-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a .933 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 22-25 with a 2.53 GAA on the road and 8-6 with a 2.13 GAA, while against the Pacific Division he has gone 4-6 with a 2.61 GAA. This will be his first meeting with the Ducks.
Tampa Bay comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 4.00 gpg, while also ranking 13th in shots taken (32.1 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 27.9% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very solid so far as they come in ranked 6th in goals allowed, giving up just 2.59 gpg, while also ranking 19th in shots allowed (32.3 spg) and 8th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 16.1% of their chances.
Ducks Are Dealing With Injuries in the Crease
The Anaheim Ducks have had a mediocre start to their season and it may get a bit worse before it gets better as they are dealing with some injuries in the crease. In their last game, they took on Vancouver at home and they won that game by a score of 4-1. Ryan Miller got the start and the win in the game, but he also left that game with a lower-body injury and is questionable for this one. He is now 2-2 with a 1.87 GAA and a .943 save percentage on the year. He got the start in that game because John Gibson is out due to a concussion. Gibson has gone 5-6 with a 2.97 GAA and a .914 GAA on the year but is listed as questionable as well. That leaves Reto Berra as the possible starter for this one and he came into to relieve Miller once he got hurt. Berra is 5-11 with a 2.73 GAA against the Atlantic Division in his career, but this would be his first start against the Bolts. Gibson has gone 12-14 with a 2.46 GAA against the Atlantic Division, including 2-2 with a 2.00 GAA against the Bolts. Jakob Silfverberg led the attack in the win over the Canucks with his 3rd & 4th goals of the year, while also scoring in the win was Hampus Lindholm, which was his 3rd of the year and Brandon Montour, which was his 5th of the year.
The Ducks have been below average on offense so far this year as they come in ranked 18th in the league in scoring at 2.88 gpg, while also ranking 21st in shots taken (30.9 spg) and 26th in power play conversions, converting on 15.1% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been below average as they come in ranked 17th goals allowed, giving up 2.94 gpg, while also ranking 28th in shots allowed (34.3 spg) and 5th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 13.9% of their chances.
Tampa Bay is:
- 8-2 their last 10 games against a team with a losing record
- 11-4 their last 15 games following a win
- 2-8 their last 10 games following a win
The Lightning are the best team in the league with the best offense, but can they keep it going against an Anaheim team that normally plays well at home, especially since the home team is 8-3 the last 11 in this series? The Ducks have injury woes in the crease and that is not good news against the high-scoring Lightning and I feel it will cost Anaheim here. The Bolts have won their last three games in a row and they lead the league in points, plus they have won five of the last seven games in this series and they have gone 13-3 in their last 16 road games overall. This game should go the way of the Bolts.