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Tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Tampa Bay Times Forum is the first of three meetings this year against the Bolts’ Metropolitan Division foe. Last season, Tampa Bay was swept by Pittsburgh in three games. The Lightning are looking for their first win versus the Penguins since Nov. 17, 2011, a streak that spans three games.
The Big Story:
The Lightning attempt to take advantage of a Penguins team who is playing in the second half of back-to-backs tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Despite being outscored by Pittsburgh 15-9 in three games last year, the Bolts have outscored opponents14-9 in four games during this year’s campaign. In just the second game of their seven-game homestand Tampa Bay has found success at the Times Forum, going 7-3-1 over their past 11 home contests dating back to last season.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay put on an offensive showcase during their home opener at the Times Forum on Thursday. Along with a hat trick, Stamkos recorded a shorthanded, power-play and even-strength goal for the first time in his career in the 7-2 victory against the Florida Panthers. In addition, seven different players had multi-point games in the Bolts fourth-straight win.
Continuing to ride Ben Bishop’s strong play, the goalie suffered a minor setback Friday and is now considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. In his absence, the Bolts may look to Anders Lindback to man the crease, although it is not certain that Bishop will miss any time. Lindback has not appeared in a regular season game since October 3.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is confident in Lindback, who lost the season opener, 3-1, to the Boston Bruins, and said he hasn’t been backing up Bishop due to performance, but simply because Bishop has been playing so well. Cedrick Desjardins was also recalled to fill Tampa Bay’s goaltending void.
PENGUINS – Coming into tonight’s game on the losing end of a 6-3 score to Florida last night, Pittsburgh looks to regroup and avoid their first losing streak of the season. Netminder Jeff Zatkoff, who recorded an American Hockey League-best 1.93 goals-against average in 2012-13, made his NHL debut in the loss stopping 24 of 30 shots.
The Penguins have also addressed their defense early this season and despite giving up six goals to Florida, have allowed only nine total goals through the first four games this season. That marker is the third-fewest amount of goals the team has given up through the first four games of the season in franchise history.
Tonight concludes the first set of back-to-backs this season for Pittsburgh, who has 17 total sets back-to-backs this season.
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell both enter Saturday’s contest on three-game point streaks. The two have combined for 10 points during that span. Steven Stamkos netted his sixth career hat trick, as part of his four-point performance Thursday. Netminder Ben Bishop has won three straight games, to go along with a 1.93 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He has also not allowed more than two goals in each of those three starts.
LIGHTNING – G Ben Bishop (Lower Body, Day-to-Day), D Brian Lee (Knee, Out), F Tom Pyatt (Broken collar bone, Out), D Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Day-to-Day); PENGUINS – F Matt D’Agostini (Lower Body), D Kris Letang (Lower Body), F James Neal (Upper Body), G Tomas Vokoun (Blood Clot)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning have not scored seven goal in their home opener since their first year of inception during the 1992-93 season.
His three assists Thursday, tied a career-high for the #TBLightning’s @TeddyPurcell16.
The #TBLightning’s power-play has notched a goal in three straight games, going 4-for-9 (44.4%) during that stretch.
“There’s one thing I’ll never doubt about Anders [Lindback] and that’s his work ethic. If there’s one thing that guy brings every day, he pulls out the card and punches the clock. That’s what will keep him adored by his teammates and will always give him a chance to play, is his work ethic. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff or the players and it’s the way he battles. It’s going to get him starts and make him a better goalie in the end.” – Head Coach Jon Cooper on goaltender Anders Lindback
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