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Blackhawks continue weekend back-to-back by hosting Lightning

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One of the Eastern Conference’s top teams makes its way to the United Center on Sunday night.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are in the middle of one of their busiest stretches of the season, playing their third game in four nights as part of an 11-day, 7-game stretch. On Sunday night, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning skating into the United Center.

Tampa is in the early stages of a five-game road trip and is coming off a 5-4 loss in overtime to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night. That game featured No. 1 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, which means the Blackhawks should face backup Louis Domingue in this one. Tampa held a 3-1 advantage in the second period of that game, before allowing three straight goals. Yianni Gourde tied the game at four with five minutes left in regulation but the Wild picked up the extra point on a Mikael Granlund goal 3:43 into overtime.

Many of the names associated with the Lightning remain the same as they have over the past 4-5 years. Steven Stamkos is still here, though he’s off to a slower start with just one goal and two assists in his first six games. There’s also Tyler Johnson (3G, 2A), Bradyen Point (4G, 1A), Nikita Kucherov (1G, 4A) and Ondrej Palat (4A) in the lineup. On defense, Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman remain fixtures, but the emergence of 20-year-old Mikhail Sergachev, who was acquired in the Jonathan Drouin trade with the Montreal Canadiens, gives the Lightning yet another scoring threat.

In short, this is very similar to the Tampa teams of the last few seasons: fast and skilled, another team that should be near the top of the Eastern Conference all season long. But the question for the Lightning, as it’s been since 2015, is whether or not they can capture that elusive Stanley Cup.

For the Blackhawks, given coach Joel Quenneville’s propensity for riding hot hands, no significant lineup changes are expected after Chicago won 4-1 in Columbus on Saturday night — its first regulation victory of the season. After an excellent outing, goaltender Corey Crawford will likely give way to one of the other two active goalies on the team. Whether that’s Cam Ward or Anton Forsberg won’t be known until Quenneville meets with the media a few hours before the faceoff.

Both teams played on Saturday night and had to make a late flight to Chicago for Sunday’s game, meaning heavy legs will be no excuse for either team. Tampa is again expected to be among the league’s elite, while Chicago is looking to exceed a plethora of basement prognostications. These two teams often bring the best out of each other, so this Sunday evening game could be an excellent one to watch.

Lineups

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Toews — Kahun

Schmaltz — Anisimov — Kane

Kunitz — Kampf — Saad

Fortin — Kruger — Martinsen

Keith — Jokiharju

Gustafsson — Seabrook

Rutta — Davidson

Ward

Crawford

Lightning

Gourde — Point — Stamkos

Palat — Johnson — Kucherov

Killron — Cirelli — Joseph

Miller — Paquette — Callahan

Hedman — Girardi

McDonagh — Stralman

Coburn — Sergachev

Domingue

Vasilevskiy

How to watch

Start time: 6 p.m. Central

Location: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago