Lightning (9-11-1, 19 Points) at Penguins (14-8-0, 28 Points)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; AM 970 WFLA
It’s the second of three total meetings on the year. The two clubs met recently back on February 24 in Pittsburgh, where Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist in a 5-3 win. The teams will finish off the three-game season set on April 11 in Tampa Bay.
The Big Story:
The league’s top two point getters will face off tonight, as Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos come in with 34 and 32 points, respectively. Tampa Bay will look to snap a four-game losing skid and work its way back towards the top of the Southeast Division standings, while the Penguins look to extend their win streak to a modest two games and pad their lead at the top of the Atlantic Division standings over the second-place New Jersey Devils.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay begins the second half of its four-game road trip, as Monday also marks the first half of a back-to-back set that wraps up the trip the following night, on Tuesday, in New Jersey against the Devils. The Bolts’ recent struggles continued Saturday in Boston, as a 3-2 loss to the Bruins was the team’s fourth straight and fifth in the past six games. A fast start at the TD Garden proved all for not, as Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn had a pair of power-play goals to put the Lightning out to a 2-0 lead, but Brad Marchand snapped a 2-2 tie within the waning minutes of regulation to lead the Bruins comeback, as Boston scored three unanswered tallies to come from behind and earn its sixth consecutive victory.
PENGUINS – Pittsburgh will host the Lightning in the first of only two home games this week, as the team will travel through Philadelphia and Toronto before returning home on Sunday for a contest against the New York Islanders. The Penguins rebounded from a two-game losing streak in their most recent contest on Saturday, a high-scoring affair in which the defeated the Montreal Canadiens 7-6 in overtime. Brandon Sutter scored the game-winner just 52 seconds into the extra frame, his second tally of the night, and Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke also added two goals each, while Sidney Crosby had the other. The win helped Pittsburgh pad its lead in the Atlantic Division standings, as it now holds a three-point edge over the second-place Devils following New Jersey’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is riding a nine-game points streak that is the league’s longest, as he has registered eight goals and 15 points in that span. Martin St. Louis also has nine points in his past 10 games. Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz has points in five straight contests, and five goals in as many games.
Lightning forward Ryan Malone, although currently on Injured Reserve, was drafted by the Penguins and spent four seasons with Pittsburgh prior to joining the Lightning in 2008. Forward Adam Hall also spent time with the Penguins, appearing in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals alongside Malone. Mathieu Garon won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh the following year, in 2009.
Twitter Stat Pack:
The Penguins enter with the league’s third-ranked power play at 26.4 percent, while Tampa Bay comes in seventh at 21.6 percent.
Pittsburgh has scored the most goals in the NHL this season with 76, while the Lightning are right behind them in second with 73.
The Bolts rank fourth in the NHL with 116:10 of power play time.
Tampa Bay is seventh in the NHL with 667 faceoffs won, while Pittsburgh is first with 719.
“It’s not where we want to be and that’s why we have a long road to get to where we want to be. And until we avoid those mistakes, the Hail Marys, the zone entries when it’s a tight game at the end of a period, turnovers at the blue line, that’s what we need to learn. The young guys need to learn and the old guys need to show the way.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on what the team needs to do to reverse its recent struggles
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