Preview: Oilers at Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been collecting victories despite a growing injured list and will try to extend their winning streak to nine Thursday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers, who are without star center Connor McDavid. The Lightning did not have captain Steven Stamkos (lower body) for Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win at Pittsburgh and fellow forwards Nikita Kucherov along with Anthony Cirelli left that contest with injuries.
“That was definitely a mash unit tonight,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters of his team, which is also without top-two defenseman Ryan McDonagh (lower body). “This is a tough league to win in, especially against a team that talented. That was one of the guttier ones I’ve seen.” Cirelli blocked a shot while Kucherov (team highs of 27 goals, 70 points) got tangled behind the net to suffer lower-body injuries and their status, along with Stamkos, is uncertain for Thursday as the Lightning go for their eighth straight home win in the series with the Oilers. Edmonton does not feel sorry for Tampa Bay with McDavid (81 points) out two-to-three weeks due to a quadriceps injury, but the Oilers looked just fine Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over Chicago in the first game without their superstar in the lineup. “With (McDavid) out, we’re not going to score five goals every night,” Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl, who leads the league with 89 points, told reporters after the win. "But you just have to find ways to win hockey games.”
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: FS Sun, Sportsnet West
ABOUT THE OILERS (30-20-6): Former first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto has made quite an impression since being called up in late December, scoring two goals Tuesday to push his total to seven to go along with seven assists and a plus-12 rating in 15 games. “I think he surprises a lot of (defensemen) with how quick he is,” Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told reporters. “If he gets beat, all of a sudden he gets right back in there. He has a good stick and creates a lot of opportunities for us.” Draisaitl had a goal and three assists in Tuesday’s win after scoring twice in the previous contest while Nugent-Hopkins has four points in two games.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (37-15-5): Yanni Gourde snapped a 35-game goal drought with the overtime winner Tuesday and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scored his ninth to match a career best in 2017-18. If Kucherov is able to play, he has a chance to extend his point streak to a career-best 13 games after notching an assist Tuesday, while center Brayden Point made the scoresheet for the eighth straight game by setting up Gourde’s tally. Andrei Vasilevskiy (league-best 30 wins) made 35 saves to beat Pittsburgh, extending his personal point streak to 19 games (17-0-2), and has won three of four previous meetings with the Oilers.
1. Edmonton G Mike Smith, who was with Tampa Bay from 2007-2011, has not suffered a regulation loss since Dec. 20.
2. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman boasts five assists in the last four contests and owns a plus-23 rating in his past 23.
3. The Oilers are 4-for-7 in the last two games and lead the league in power-play percentage (29.9) with Tampa Bay sitting fifth (24.0).
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Oilers 2