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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Another test tonight for Lightning

Big one tonight at Amalie Arena as the Lightning finish off its four-game homestand against the visiting Jets, who at one point earlier this week were tied with the Lightning (20-6-2, 42 points) for the NHL lead in points.Since then, the Jets (17-8-4, 38 points) have lost two-straight.“You never want to see a team after they’ve lost a couple of a row, because they’ll probably be a little snarly,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said before the morning skate.G Andrei Vasilevskiy was not on the ice during the optional morning skate. Goalie coach Frantz Jean took his place in one of the nets. All indications are Vasilevskiy will be net tonight.D Jake Dotchin (undisclosed) could return to the lineup tonight after missing the last eight games.The Lightning has won the first three games of this homestand, outscoring its opponents 16-6 along the way. But Cooper said tonight’s game against one of the top teams from the Western Conference has the Lightning’s attention.“There’s no question, and that was talked about (before the skate),” Cooper said. “We got a four-game homestand, and this one was the big one you’re looking at at the end.”The Jets are paced by RW Blake Wheeler (8 goals-29 assists-37 points) and C Mark Scheifele (14-20-34). G Conner Hellebuyck (15-3-3) is a big reason the Jets are playing as well as they are, according to Cooper.“They’ve kind of got a blend of everything,” Cooper said. “They got the size. They got the speed. They got the skill. I think one thing that probably now has helped their team is they’re getting goaltending.”Said C Steven Stamkos: “We see a lot of similarities to our game. They have a lot of skilled forwards. They’re a big group on both ends of the ice. They’ve lost a couple of games, so they’re going to be hungry tonight. It’s going to be a big test for us.“We wanted to come home and play well. We got three of four, so far, we’re obviously going to try and win again tonight before we head out on the road. This is going to be a great test. We can’t afford any shifts off tonight. These guys thrive on the transition and when they get it in the zone, they can’t keep it in there.”
  • Stamkos (12-29-41) and RW Nikita Kucherov (19-21-40) are still one-two in the NHL in scoring. Kucherov is second in goals behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin’s 21.
  • Vasilevskiy is tops among goalies with 18 wins.
  • The Jets are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. In fact, neither team has lost three straight this year.
  • The Jets 3.38 goals a game are tops in franchise history.
  • The teams split the season-series last season with the visitor winning both teams. In fact, the road team has won seven of the last eight meetings.
  • Stamkos is 9-5-14 in his last 11 games vs. Winnipeg.
  • LW Ondrej Palat has scored a goal in five of his last six games against the Jets, including the last two.
  • Since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta, the Jets are 9-90 against the Lightning with seven overtime games and two shootouts.
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