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Preview: Lightning come to St. Paul riding hot streak

A good team is facing another good team.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild have not been as good as they could have been around the holiday season. They have won two of their last four games, including laying a couple stinkers against the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars. Fortunately for our sanity they balanced it out with outplaying the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues to an almost embarrassing amount.

So, which version will we see tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Wild vs. Lightning

When: 8:30 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
TV: TNT
Radio: KFAN 100.3

No matter what day it is in the last decade, a game against the Lightning is a tough one. And somehow, they have just managed to keep it all together and continue winning a whole lot of hockey games. But the Wild have been on a steady trajectory throughout the season and we should be feeling at least somewhat confident about this home game that we only have to think about once a season.

Before that four-game stretch of varying results, the Wild won six straight and appeared unstoppable. Everyone was scoring, the defense was working their magic, and the goaltending might have been the best we’ve seen in a Wild net in the last several years.

But also, on the other hand the Lightning have won their last four games and are 24-11-1 on the season. Which is just so typical Tampa, and that’s annoying.

A clash of two good teams is going to happen tonight so it will be up to individual talent, I guess.

Projected Wild lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy — Frederick Gaudreau — Ryan Hartman
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill — Calen Addison

Filip Gustavsson will be the starter tonight as Dean Evason continues to give the young netminder more and more starts and lets Marc-Andre Fleury rest a little bit.

The lines are staying the same as they did against the Blues last year (hehe, haha) and the injury scare for Joel Eriksson Ek has been solved before the Wild even needed to play a game. Everything is fine!

Projected Lightning lineup

Brandon Hagel — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos — Alex Killorn
Ross Colton — Nick Paul — Patrick Maroon
Vlad Namestnikov — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry

Victor Hedman — Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev — Nick Perbix
Ian Cole — Erik Cernak

Andrei Vasilevskiy will be starting tonight. Ah, okay.

Yeah, I mean the Lightning can get away with having a scorer, playmaker, and gritty forechecking monster machine on basically every single line. If they can’t create more scoring chances than you, they’ll go ahead and be that physical nasty and dirty team that they can be. I guess that’s how they got to win a bunch — just simply build a team that can win in every way possible.

Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. for some reason.

Burning Questions

Can the team hold the Lightning to under 30 shots?

It’s not the most lofty of goals, but it would be an excellent marker if this team could hold that team to not getting a whole lot of shots on goal and/or scoring chances. Since they have someone capable of pulling off some unruly offense on every single line and some excellent transitional blueliners out there as well — well, there’s a reason why they won some Stanley Cups.

Will Kaprizov get a couple points?

Just to think of some star vs. star matchups and we just want to see Kirill Kaprizov go off and get his first multi-point game since Dec. 18. It doesn’t seem like he hasn’t been that productive, but also we’re just used to dropping our jaws every time he hits the ice.