Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

In the Crease - Week 14

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For the Sweep
The Tampa Bay Lightning will roll into KeyBank Center on New Year's Eve looking for the season sweep of the Buffalo Sabres. These teams met in Buffalo back on Nov. 8, and the Lightning came away with a win with Andrei Vasilevskiy in the crease. He allowed two goals on 22 shots in that outing, and he is the projected started for Tuesday's game. He also took care of the Sabres at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm back on Nov. 25 in one of the two Global Series games in Sweden. He allowed two goals on 30 shots in his start opposite Hutton overseas.

For the aforementioned Hutton, it's been a strange ride. He started the season on fire, going 6-0-0 to fire out of the chute, but it's been a slow burn since. He hasn't won since Oct. 22, losing 10 consecutive starts. Instead of showing signs of life, Hutton has actually shown signs of getting worse, coughing up six goals in each of his past two starts, and four or more goals in six of his past seven appearances. That bodes well for the Lightning, who will have their brooms out in Buffalo.

 Looking Ahead

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Montreal at Carolina: The Canadiens return to PNC Arena for the first time since Oct 4, the regular season opener. Carey Price will be in the crease against the Hurricanes, and he is looking to avenge a 4-3 shootout loss in Raleigh when Petr Mrazek held on for the win. While the Canadiens have won four of the past 15 against Eastern Conference teams, they are 9-3 in the past 12 against winning sides. The Hurricanes are 32-14 in the past 46 games at PNC Arena, and 40-18 in the past 58 as a favorite, including 17-7 in the past 24 as a home favorite. PNC Arena has been a house of horrors for the Habs, as they're 0-5 in the past five visits to North Carolina's capital city. They're also 1-7 in the past eight meetings, with the home team 4-1 in the past five in this series, with the favorite 21-7 in the past 28 meetings.

N.Y. Rangers at Edmonton: The Rangers and Oilers might be the final teams off the ice in the calendar year of 2019. They'll square off at Rogers Place in Edmonton with Alexandar Georgiev and Mike Smith projected to be in between the pipes for their respective sides. Georgiev made 44 saves last time out in an overtime win at Toronto, while Smith is in the midst of a four-start slide, going 0-3-1 to slip to 7-8-2 with a 3.12 goals-against average and .893 save percentage. Edmonton limps into 2020 with just one win in the past six home games, and they're 2-8 in the past 10 games overall, too.

Wednesday, Jan. 1

Nashville at Dallas: The only game on New Year's Day takes place in the Cotton Bowl outdoors, and the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-50's with plenty of clouds and no precipitation. Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop are expected to lock horns and face each other. While the home team is just 3-8 in the previous 11 Winter Classic games, with six of the 11 games being decided by one goal. While we might see favorable weather conditions and a lack of sun beating down on the ice, the surface should still be rather sticky outdoors. Eight of the previous 11 Winter Classics have seen a total of five or fewer goals, so don't be surprised to see another low-scoring affair.

Thursday, Jan. 2

St. Louis at Colorado: The Blues hold a rather sizeable lead over the Avalanche in the Central Division, but Colorado gets the defending champs in their barn looking to trim the lead. The Avalanche are also looking to avenge a sound 5-2 beating on Dec. 16 in St. Louis, as Jordan Binnington easily outdueled Philipp Grubauer. St. Louis also picked up a 3-1 win on Oct. 21 on the banks of the Mississippi River, but this will be the first meeting this season in the Mile High City. The last time the Blues were in town they came away with a 3-0 win on Feb. 16 last season, and the Blues are working on a six-game winning streak against the Avalanche dating back to the regular-season finale on April 7, 2018, a 5-2 win at Pepsi Center.

Philadelphia at Vegas: The Fly Guys and Golden Knights square off in Sin City for the first game of the calendar year at T-Mobile Arena. These teams met Oct. 21 in the City of Brotherly Love, and they'll be looking to avenge an embarrassing 6-2 loss. Of course, not to make excuses, but VGK was using Oscar Dansk in an emergency start, his only appearance at the NHL level this season. For this home game they'll have All-Star and future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury back between the pipes. He is 15-8-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with two shutouts, and he knows the Flyers well from his days with the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Philly is one of a few teams with a winning record against Vegas in their brief history. They're 3-2 all-time against the Golden Knights, including a perfect 2-0 in their previous visits to T-Mobile Arena. They won 5-2 last season on Oct. 4, 2018, and they won 4-1 on Feb. 11, 2018.

Friday, Jan. 3

Washington at Carolina: The Capitals and Hurricanes are quickly becoming rivals, as these teams had a contentious seven-game playoff series last season, some tight and angry preseason battles, and it has spilled over into the regular season. They have played each other frequently lately, too, as the Caps are looking to avenge a 6-4 loss just this past Saturday at PNC Arena. The Canes won 3-2 in an overtime affair back on Oct. 5, too, so the Capitals should come out with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Braden Holtby has been on the short end of both of the losses to Carolina, as he is 0-1-1 against the Hurricanes and 17-5-2 against everyone else. It's a far cry from last season when the Capitals swept the four-game meetings in the regulat season. Of course, Carolina got their revenge, winning in double-overtime in Game 7 of their playoff series, and the confidence has spilled over to this season so far.

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