The Lightning (24-7-2) return to Amalie Arena tonight against the Ottawa Senators (11-14-7), offering a rare game against a division foe.
Coach Jon Cooper noted after this morning's skate that the Lightning schedule through the first 33 games of the season has been heavy with teams from the other divisions and light on games against teams within the Atlantic.
"We're going to play them at some point and it kind of starts tonight, so these are big games for us," Cooper said.
C Tyler Johnson and D Jake Dotchin, who both missed Tuesday's game at Las Vegas because of the flu, skated this morning and Cooper indicated they should be on the ice tonight.
The Lightning was 3-1 on the road trip, losing the finally 4-3 when Vegas scored a power play goal with 2.3 seconds to play.
The absence of F Ryan Callahan (upper body) hurt the penalty kill, but C Yanni Gourde said much of the problems Tuesday, when the Lightning allowed four power play goals, had to do with the unit not staying with their assignments.
"You look back at the tape of the Vegas game, I know we lost with two seconds left but (G Andrei) Vasilevskiy made some big saves for us to keep it where it was," Cooper said. "We were a little listless. We played a little tired at the end. The boys gamed it out, but at the end we didn't get the two points, and that's what makes tonight really important."
Playing tonight is a quick turnaround for the Lightning after the 10-day, four-city trip that ended Wednesday with a flight home from Vegas. Because of that, Cooper said this morning he is more interested in his team than the Senators, who have lost six of their last eight.
"It's tough. The travel wears on you," Cooper said. "And this is not just us. Every team goes through this at different times. But you look at games that are set up for you in different ways. If history says these are tough ones for you, but we have had the ability to come back in these games and play pretty well. Hopefully we can do it tonight."
The forward lines from the morning skate:
The defensive pairings:
Vasilevskiy will be in net.