The Tampa Bay Lightning will host the Minnesota Wild in an NHL regular season matchup tomorrow morning in GMT.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been performing somewhat poorly this season with 23 wins, 19 losses, and are currently in the top 8 in the West. They put up a masterful performance in the last match, taking down the Anaheim Ducks with a stunning 5:1. Steven Stamkos, the captain, made a significant contribution by notching up a hat trick. The Lightning bested Anaheim by converting all three powerplay attempts, which became a part of their winning streak, including games against New Jersey and Los Angeles.
However, Stamkos, who ranks 17th in the history with 204 powerplay goals, certainly doesn't measure up to Wayne Gretzky's staggering 894 goals. That scoring feat helped the team chalk up their third consecutive victory of the season and extend their home-winning streak to four. With the last year of his contract coming up, Stamkos, 33, who has bagged 41 points in 41 games, might be up for a significant decision regarding his future at the club. However, the management has asserted that he won't be going anywhere.
At the beginning of 2024, the Minnesota Wild met with injuries to several key players, complicating the team's situation. Despite that, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury registered a notable record to his profile in the last game, turning away 21 shots and racking up the 74th shutout of his career. This gave the Wild a victory over the New York Islanders with a scoreline of 5:0, where the 39-year-old Fleury surpassed Patrick Roy's record, ranking second in history with 552 victories. Up until then, the team had been going through a rough patch, losing 8 out of the previous 9 games, without a regulation win since 28th December when they beat the Detroit Red Wings by 6:3.
Following a 0:6 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at home, exposing severe problems in the game, the players held a meeting to discuss current issues and improvement strategies. Forward Mats Zuccarello expressed overall disappointment of the team. Changes took place as defenceman Jonas Brodin returned after a 17-game absence, and forwards Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov, together with goalie Philip Grubauer, got back in action. But Kaprizov, the team's top scorer with 34 points, failed to make a significant impact in recent matches, scoring no points. Other key performers, including Zuccarello and Joel Eriksson Ek, have also been struggling to find scoring form.
The teams previously faced off on 5th January 2024, and Tampa Bay came out on top with a 4:1 victory. Taylor Raddysh led the team with two goals and Kucherov provided one assist.
Yes, Minnesota may have scored 5 unanswered goals in the last match, but they will struggle against Tampa Bay and the increasingly triumphant Kucherov. Kirill Kaprizov, after his injury, has been somewhat underwhelming, in contrast to the Lightning who are gaining momentum.