The Tampa Bay Lightning look to continue its push to the playoffs with three tough games in front of the home crowd. On Tuesday night, they will face the Vegas Golden Knights. On Thursday night, a resurgent St. Louis Blues team comes to town fighting for its own playoff life. On Saturday night, it’s a revenge game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1) Tuesday, Feb. 5 vs. Golden Knights- 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN+

The Vegas Golden Knights may be on a four game losing streak, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be an easy two points for the Lightning on Tuesday night. The Bolts needs to stay focused and play their game in order to grab two points from a team that is struggling.

The Lightning Will Win If….

They play a solid game in the neutral zone to keep the Golden Knights’ transition game in-check. They will need to have active sticks with a good gap between the forwards and defensemen. The Lightning should get plenty of bodies and traffic in front of the net to take the goalie’s eyes off the puck. It would be a good idea if the Bolts had the lead after two periods since the Golden Knights have only four regulation wins when trailing entering the third period of games. The Golden Knights have a pretty balanced lineup so the Lightning want to establish a forecheck game early and often in this game to keep them defending and not on the attack.

Matchup of the Game

The goaltending matchup should be a good one especially if the goalies are Andrei Vasilevskiy and Marc-Andre Fleury. Vasilevskiy missed some time with a broken foot, but is 21-7-2 with a 2.46 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 30 games. Fleury has been an important part of the Golden Knights’ success again this season. He is 27-15-4 with a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage in 46 games. If both of these goalies start and are on their game than it should be a low scoring affair.

Game Prediction

The Lightning pull to the 3-2 win in regulation and grab two more points on home ice. The Lightning goals will be scored by Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde. The Golden Knights goals will come from Alex Tuch, the leading goal scorer, and William Karlsson. The Golden Knights losing streak will extend to five games.

2) Thursday, Feb. 7 vs. Blues- 7:30 p.m. ET

The St. Louis Blues have managed to climb its way back into the playoff picture after looking like they had a good shot at the number one draft pick early in the season. The Blues have offensive weapons so they can’t be taken lightly or overlooked.

The Lightning Will Win If…

The team plays a solid 60-minute game with effort and limits its mistakes. The Blues have some players who can put the puck in the back of the net off of a mistake in a team’s own end. The Lightning need to move their feet to draw penalties since the Blues have only killed off 79.5% of penalties taken. When Ryan O’Reilly is on the ice the Lightning should make sure that he is covered since he is the Blues leading point producer. The Bolts want to get plenty of players in front of the opposition’s net as well as get shots on net.

Matchup of the Game

Nikita Kucherov has picked up right where he left off last season, while Vladimir Tarasenko has really struggled. Even though these two have gone in opposition directions this season, they are still the players to watch in this game. Kucherov is scoring, dishing and just flat out producing, as he leads the NHL in points. Tarrasenko may be struggling but he can still be dangerous especially if he gets open around the net.

Game Prediction

The Lightning will lose this one in regulation by a score of 4-3. The Blues goals will come from Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Bozak. The Lightning will frantically try to tie the game late in this one with the goalie pulled, but they’ll fall just short with goals coming from Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos (two goals).

3) Saturday, Feb. 9 vs Penguins- 7 p.m. ET – NHLN

The Lightning look to get revenge for a 4-2 loss on January 30 at Amalie Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game was an intense one with scrums after whistles, but the Lightning need to stay away from that this time around. This should be another exciting game.

The Lightning Will Win If…

They play their game and don’t get roped into the extra circular activities after the whistles. The goaltender, whether it be Louis Domingue or Vasilevskiy, will need to make some saves to keep his team in the game. The Lightning need to stay focused and use their speed in transition. Another key to this game for the Lightning will be for them to remain disciplined since the Penguins have the sixth best power play in the League.

Matchup of the Game

The specials teams for both teams are something to pay attention to in this game. The Lightning have the top ranked power play (29.4%) and the fourth ranked penalty kill (84%). The Penguins have the sixth ranked power play (24.5%) and the ninth best penalty kill (81.9%). The special teams could wind up being a difference maker in this game and possibly even play a role in a team winning or losing.

Game Prediction

The Lightning will avenge their prior loss to the Penguins and take the game by a score of 3-1. The three Bolts’ goals will be scored by J.T. Miller, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos. The Penguins lone goal will be scored by Jake Guentzel with an assist from Sidney Crosby. The Bolts finish off the week with a 2-1-0 record.

Pink Puck Contributor


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