BLUES (8-1-2) at LIGHTNING (9-4-0)
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
The Tampa Bay Lightning host the St. Louis Blues tonight at 7 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the first of two regular season games between the two clubs. The Blues won two meetings versus Tampa Bay in 2011-12, outscoring Tampa Bay by a 6-1 margin. The Lightning defeated the Blues twice this preseason, both wins coming by a score of 4-3.
The Big Story:
The Bolts and Blues enter their second game of back-to-backs Saturday at the Times Forum. Both coming off shutout wins, the Blues are looking for their fourth straight win, while the Lightning hope to start a streak of their own by capturing their second victory in as many nights.
LIGHTNING – Playing nearly half the game with little offensive input from either side, the Lightning led a second-half surge Friday night to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. An impressive Ben Bishop earned his first shutout since his Bolts’ debut last season, which also came against the ‘Canes. The win meant the Lightning still have yet to lose back-to-back games this season.
Now Tampa Bay returns home for two contests, before an important three-game road trip against the Atlantic Division. During a season-long, seven-game homestand in October the Lightning posted a 5-2-0 record and their best record in the month of October in franchise history with eight wins.
Despite Bishop manning the pipes yesterday, head coach Jon Cooper did not rule him out for Saturday’s tilt. There was also some line shuffling, with Alex Killorn playing on the top-line with Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Brett Connolly also was recalled from the Syracuse Crunch and played on the third line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Cooper who has been known for saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” leaves tonight’s lines to be determined.
BLUES – One of the sleepers on the NHL right now, the Blues, have one of the most balanced teams in the league. With two solid netminders in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, St. Louis’ skill is complimentary on the offensive and defensive sides as well. The Blues ranks second in the league for goals for per game (3.73) and fifth in the league for least amount of goals against per game (2.18).
St. Louis enters the contest with points in six consecutive games, posting a 4-0-2 record. They also have points in their past four road games.
Two of the league’s hottest goal scorers to start the season, St. Louis’ Alexander Steen and the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos take the ice Saturday night. Steen leads the league with 12 goals, which is also the halfway mark of his career-high 24 markers, as Stamkos is tied for second (with Alex Ovechkin) with 10 goals. Stamkos has had goals in three straight games and five in his last five.
10/31 – Lightning recall forward Brett Connolly from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #Bolts @RealStamkos91 has tallied three goals in three games and five in his last five. He also leads the #TBLightning and is T-2nd in the @NHL for goals (10).
With an 8-2-0 record through 10 games, @BenBishop30 has posted a .924 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average to start the season.
Martin St. Louis has six points in his past five games for the #TBLightning.
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