TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning put a five-game home winning streak on the line as they host the Arizona Coyotes.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have won seven of their past nine games overall and enter tonight in the No. 1 wildcard spot, one point behind Toronto for the third place spot in the Atlantic Division and two points ahead of Detroit, which has a game in hand on Tampa Bay.
This is the second of two meetings against Arizona, which beat Tampa Bay at Mullet Arena in November, when former draft pick Connor Ingram stifled his former team. Ingram will once again be in net for the Coyotes tonight, sporting a 2-0 record with a 0.48 goals against average and .987 save percentage having allowed one goal in two games against the Lightning.
The Coyotes were in Sunrise on Wednesday where they lost to the Panthers 6-2. After the game, George Richards from Florida Hockey Now reported that the Arizona team plane was delayed getting out of Fort Lauderdale airport and arrived in Tampa later than scheduled.
Arizona, which has been on the cusp of the playoff picture in the Western Conference most of the season, has just four wins in the last 11 games. They are 8-10-3 on the road this season.
Some notes from the morning skate:
Defenseman Erik Cernak and Haydn Fleury were both on the ice for the morning skate, though neither will play tonight. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said both players, along with Mikhail Sergachev won’t be available until after the All Star break. The Lightning play New Jersey on Saturday and then are off for 10 days before they return to action on the road in New York to face the Rangers on February 7.
Tampa Bay will also be without forward Austin Watson, who suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday in Detroit. The team announced on Tuesday that Watson would be out week-to-week. Watson was placed on injured reserve prior to tonight’s game.
With Watson out, Tampa Bay sent defenseman Phil Myers back to Syracuse on Wednesday and called up forward Mitchell Chaffee, who made his NHL debut last month in Vancouver. Chaffee was on the ice for the morning skate and will be in the lineup, with Alex Barre-Boulet the scheduled scratch. Waltteri Merela, who was a scratch on Tuesday in Philadelphia, will return to the lineup.
Cooper was asked about what has helped turn the team’s season north over the past number of weeks.
“Our play has improved,” Cooper said. “We’ve been much more predictable. We’re much more responsible in our own end. And in the end, there was a lot of times where things even out during the year, and it was amazing when things were going against us early in the year and I just think some of those breaks that went against us are going our way now. And when we broken down (Andrei Vasilevskiy) has been unreal back there. So it’s great to see. The guys have deserved this. They’ve been working their way. We’re getting contributions from everybody and it’s paying off for us.”
Here’s how the lines ran at the morning skate.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first goaltender off the ice, so he’s set to make his 25th start of the season. Vasilevskiy has won five of his past six starts and allowed three-or-fewer goals in each start.
Here’s how you can catch the action:
Locally you can listen on the radio at 102.5 FM or online through the team app, just click on the headphones in the upper left corner. I’ll join Greg Linnelli for pregame, second intermission and postgame. I’ll also perform the walk off player interview after the first period.
The game can be watched on Bally Sports Sun in the Tampa Bay viewing area, or if you are out of market and have a subscription to ESPN+, you can watch the game there.
If you have any questions, you can reach me via email at Erik@LightningInsider.com or on Twitter at @Erik_Erlendsson.