Devils Take on Lightning to Close Out Back-to-Back

After a thrilling 5-1 win against the Washington Capitals last night, the New Jersey Devils return home to face a white-hot Tampa Bay Lightning squad. Looking at this weekend’s forecast, it looks like the Lightning brought a bit of that that Florida weather with them. Some say it’s “global warming,” I say it’s “hockey magic.”

Devils and Lightning games always seem to be entertaining matchups. And you can add to the fact these two teams’ recent history meeting in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. There have been a few lopsided victories going the way of Jon Cooper’s team from Central Florida. There have also been more than a few upsets from our Devils.

Players to Watch

Kyle Palmieri

The last time the Lightning visited Prudential Center back in October, Palmieri scored a hat trick. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as the Devils still fell in overtime. The Devils have had too many hat tricks scored against them this season, including Mikko Rantanen’s and Tony DeAngelo’s in the past week. The New Jersey All-Star’s three-goal tally is the only hat trick for the Devils this season.

Nikita Kucherov

Gusev won’t be the only Nikita on the ice Sunday. Kucherov is Tampa’s leading scorer with 49 points, mostly coming from his 32 assists in 43 games. Unlike last time, Kucherov will be the only Hart Trophy winner suiting up, after the trade that sent Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes.

Damon Severson

Severson is on this list, but not for a good reason. The still young blueliner has made a number of defensive miscues that have cost the Devils in past games. He did a good job at redeeming himself with the game-winning shoot out goal against the Boston Bruins, but there’s still a fair share of things he has to work on.

Keys To Victory

Goaltending

It’s expected Curtis McElhinney will get the start tonight, giving Andrei Vasilevskiy the day off. McElhinney was in net for the Lightning’s overtime win against the Devils earlier this season. Coming off the second day of a back-to-back, the Devils could go with Louis Domingue, who stopped 32/33 shots against the Capitals last night, once again. It would be the first time he faces off against his former team after they traded him earlier this season.

Back-to-Back

Sunday’s game will be the Devils’ second in as many days. Not only is it a back-to-back, but it’s a home-and-away back-to-back, as the Devils visited the division-leading Capitals last night. Luckily for New Jersey, that’s a short trip, so any figurative jet lag shouldn’t be an issure (keyword here is shouldn’t).

Winning Streak

After the middling start to the season, the Lightning have roared back and showed why they’re an elite team in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning come into New Jersey with a ten-game winning streak. Will they get lucky number 11? Or will the Devils play heart breaker?

Projected Lineups

New Jersey Devils

We assume the Devils will use the same lineup as Saturday night against Washington. Check back on our Devils Army Blog social media channels for any updates!

Tampa Bay Lighting

  • Point-Stamkos-Kucherov
  • Palat-Cirelli-Johnson
  • Killorn-Paquette-Maroon
  • Verhaeghe-Stephens-Gourde
  • Hedman -Rutta
  • Sergachev-Shattenkirk
  • Coburn-Cernak
  • Vasilveskiy
  • McElhinney

Prediction

I’m writing this from Walt Disney World, the most magical place on Earth (shoutout to DAB bossman Tommy Zilinski), so I’m in a magical and optimistic mood. I say, 3-2 Devils. If they can beat the Boston Bruins by that score, there’s no reason they can’t beat the Lightning.

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