When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
TV: NBC. Radio: 97.5 FM.
» READ MORE: Complete Flyers’ coverage on Inquirer.com
What: Round-robin finale for both teams. The winner gets the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed. Loser gets the second seed.
Season series: The Lightning won both meetings, including a 1-0 game at the Wells Fargo Center, where the puck got tangled in Matt Niskanen’s skates before Pat Maroon pushed it past Carter Hart. In the rematch at Tampa, the Flyers nearly rebounded from a 3-0 deficit before losing 5-3. The Flyers killed all nine power-plays over the two games, a span of 14 minutes, 42 seconds. Still, that’s a dangerous way to live. The Flyers’ power-play went 2-for-8.
About the Lightning: The Lightning have been pointing to this year’s playoffs after getting swept in the first round last season. They just didn’t think they’d have to wait until August. ... Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net, but backup Curtis McElhinney might be brought in just to get some work. ... Reigning MVP Nikita Kucherov is +65 over the last three regular seasons and -9 the last three playoffs. He has 20 points in 20 career games against the Flyers (4 goals, 16 assists). .. Team captain Steven Stamkos (lower-body) will not play. ... Coach Jon Cooper has tried two partners for All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman. Zach Bogosian played opposite Hedman in their first round-robin game, Jan Rutta the second.
From the books: DraftKings had Tampa at -132, Flyers +115 as of Friday afternoon. FanDuel was -140/+120.
History lesson: This will be the first postseason game between these clubs since the Lightning beat the Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004. The Lightning beat the Flames to win their only Stanley Cup.
The last word: NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk said that, aside from goaltending, there is one catalyst that makes the difference for Jon Cooper’s team. “To me, Kucherov is the key for this team,” Olczyk said. “If it’s going for him, you know what you’re going to get. But when it’s not, that’s where he’s got to really buckle down and just do what he needs to do to contribute. To me, he’s the whole key moving forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning.”