Lightning (2-1-0, 4 Points) vs. Senators (3-0-0, 6 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
Season Series: It’s the first of three meetings tonight between the Bolts and the Sens. The Lightning lost all four matchups against the Senators last season and were outscored 19-6 in the process. Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson scored both game-winners at the Tampa Bay Times Forum last year, while Lightning forward Steven Stamkos led all Tampa Bay skaters with four points in the season series. Tampa Bay enters tonight’s contest looking for its first win against Ottawa since March 29, 2011.
The Big Story: Both clubs face off tonight as expansion cousins, as this season marks the 20th for each, after both entered the league during the 1992-93 season. Although he played his 1,000th career game on Monday on Long Island, tonight presents Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier with the first opportunity to be acknowledged for the milestone in front of the home fans.
Lecavalier is just one of three players featured in tonight’s game who have hit the 1,000-game milestone, with the others being Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips. Once the puck drops, the Lightning will be looking to win their second game in a row and stay unbeaten on home ice, while the Senators attempt to prolong their sizzling start and remain undefeated by improving to 4-0-0.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay kicks off a season-high five-game home stand tonight against the Senators, and will continue on down the stretch with four more games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in a span of seven days. After a day off to rest on Wednesday, the Bolts returned to the rink on Thursday for practice, where the intensity again was increased despite the team coming back from its first road trip with two out of a possible four points. Following a 4-3 defeat to the Islanders on Monday, head coach Guy Boucher mentioned how impressed he was with how his team responded in a 4-1 victory at Carolina on Tuesday night. Tom Pyatt, Cory Conacher, Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone each had goals, but it was the team’s total defensive effort highlighted by Mathieu Garon’s 35 saves, as well as another solid all-around performance from captain Vincent Lecavalier that set the tone in the win.
SENATORS – Ottawa continues on its road trip through the Sunshine State tonight, just 24 hours after completing the first half of a back-to-back set in Sunrise last night. The Senators are off to a hot start, winning their third consecutive game on Thursday to remain perfect by downing the Panthers 3-1. Goaltender Craig Anderson made 25 saves and Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza all scored for Ottawa. With the win, the Senators improved to 3-0-0 on the year, which marks the team’s best start since 2007-08 when it won five straight to open the season.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Cory Conacher are each riding three-game point streaks, while Ottawa’s Jason Spezza has also recorded a point in each of his first three games to open up the year.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (Knees, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). SENATORS – Jared Cowen (Undisclosed) and Mike Lundin (Undisclosed).
Connections: Brian Lee was originally drafted by the Senators ninth overall in the 2005 NHL Draft and recorded five goals and 28 points in 167 career games with Ottawa. Mike Lundin was originally drafted by the Lightning and spent four seasons with the Bolts before his departure following the 2010-11 season.
Notable Quotable: “He’s doing it all right now, and I’ve been here for three years now, and this is the best I’ve ever seen him. He’s leading as a captain and he’s doing it with the winning things, not the flashy things.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, speaking in regards to Vincent Lecavalier, who will be honored tonight in front of the home fans for playing in 1,000 career NHL games
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