Tampa Bay 8-2-0; Phoenix 7-2-1
CW44; AM 970 WFLA
This is the first of two meeting between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes this season and the lone game at Jobing.com Arena. The last time the two teams played each other was January of the 2011-12 season, with Tampa Bay handing the Coyotes a loss, 4-3, in Phoenix. In 29 all-time games versus the Western Conference foes, the Bolts have a 16-13-0-0 record.
Picking up where they left off against the West with a 5-1 rout of the top team in the conference, the Anaheim Ducks, now the Lightning put their perfect 7-0-0 record versus the West on the line again. The Bolts visit the Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Ducks as part of a four-game road trip, which is also the second half of a stretch where they play seven of eight games away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They are also faced with the fact that the Coyotes have not lost in regulation on home ice (8-0-1).
LIGHTNING – While Tampa Bay delivered a blow to the Ducks ego Thursday, the win came without Steven Stamkos, but it also came withAnaheim’s best player and captain, Ryan Getzlaf out of the lineup. The Lightning agreed that this game was not a testament of the top team in the Western Conference’s character and that their real test comes on the four-game road trip ahead.
Yet the Bolts did see their power-play strike not once, but twice in their seventh straight victory against the opposite conference. It was the first time the team managed a power-play goal since October 29. With veterans Martin St. Louis and Valtteri Filppula accounting for six points (three goals, three assists); the Bolts also saw eight other teammates make their way on the score sheet.
The Lightning have upped the ante with shots, taking a season-high 45 against Montreal and though they only recorded 20 shots Thursday versus the Ducks, 27 attempts either were blocked or missed the net. If the Bolts keep on pace with this heading into Phoenix luck may be on their side, as the Coyotes have given up the fourth most shots in the league.
COYOTES – Off to a solid start this campaign, Phoenix has nudged their way into the conversation in a tough Pacific Division with the help of netminder Mike Smith. Though Smith has not been spectacular, he has been good enough to help the Coyotes win despite the amount of shots he has faced between the pipes.
Interestingly, the Coyotes also have a blue line that produces a lot of offense, as well as physical play. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is becoming one of the premier puck moving defenseman in the league along with Keith Yandle, who already was.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Phoenix has seen five of their six contests on their November slate go to overtime or a shootout. They have gone 4-1 in those tilts, but are coming off a shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Valtteri Filppula, who played in his 500th game last Monday in Boston, had three points (two goals, one assist) Thursday against the Ducks, while adding the shootout game-winner two days prior in Montreal. Filppula is one point shy of matching his goal count from last season (nine) and two points away from tying his 15 points amassed in 2012-13. Martin St. Louis also tallied his first goal since October 27 and added two assists Thursday.
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone, out) D Sami Salo (lower body, day-to-day), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Coyotes – D Derek Morris (lower body, day-to-day)
11/12 Recalled Forward J.T. Brown from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/12 Recalled Defenseman Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning’s Val Filppula is one point shy of tying his total goal count from the 2012-13 season.
Posting a 13-2-0 record through15 games this season, @BenBishop30 has allowed more than two goals just twice this year.
The #TBLightning own the fourth-best penalty kill in the league, killing-off penalties at a rate of 86.8%.
“Special teams help, there’s no question, but if you can play 5-on-5 and can outscore the other team 5-on-5 it can really help your chances of winning, especially in games when all of a sudden penalties aren’t getting called as much later on in the year and during playoffs. You’re looking at two or three power-plays a game because guys won’t take chances and 5-on-5 will win you hockey games.” – Head coach Jon Cooper on stifling the Ducks even strength play
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