Tampa Bay 5-4-1; Penguins 5-4-1
Sun Sports; AM 620 WDAE
Friday’s 4 p.m. tilt is the second of three meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the 2013-14 campaign. Last game the Bolts were upset with 19 seconds left in regulation, 5-4, with a tally from Matt Niskanen. The next and final contest against the Metropolitan Foe will be at Consol Energy Center in March.
Last time the two teams met, Penguins’ forward Sidney Crosby scored a hat trick and Pittsburgh scored three power-play goals. Owning one of the best homes records at 10-2-0, the Lightning continue to roll winning their seventh straight game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Wednesday.
LIGHTNING – Despite two late goals by the Philadelphia Flyers, Victor Hedman led Tampa Bay to a 4-2 victory last game at home. Hedman notched two goals (one on the power-play) and added an assist. The Lightning also contributed their third shorthanded goal of the season, while goaltender Anders Lindback picked up his second win.
Keith Aulie made his way back from injured reserve and played in his first game since November 11. Head coach Jon Cooper also expects Radko Gudas to return to the lineup within a week, but the prognosis on Ryan Malone did not seem as promising. Ben Bishop abruptly left morning skate Wednesday, yet Cooper said both goalies would be available Friday.
PENGUINS – Facing a 4-1 deficit just 42 seconds into the middle frame Wednesday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Penguins rallied back to victory, 6-5, in a shootout. Forward Evgeni Malkin, who went on a 15-game goalless streak, helped bridge the gap against Toronto with the first goal, on the power-play. He also scored the game-tying goal in the third to cap-off a three point night.
While it will not be another perennial Crosby and Steven Stamkos matchup, there is the possibility of Friday’s re-match to be another high-scoring affair with both teams tied for seventh in the NHL for average goals per game (2.92).
With two goals Wednesday, defenseman Victor Hedman set a new career-high for goals scored in a season (six) to cap-off a three-point night. Going scoreless in his past two games after a four-game point streak, forward Tyler Johnson was back on track in his last contest, netting a goal and adding a helper.
Lightning – D Radko Gudas (upper body, day-to-day), F Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Ryan Malone (lower body, out), F Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone, out), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Penguins – F Beau Bennett (wrist, out), F Tanner Glass (hand, out), F Chuck Kobasew (lower body, out), D Paul Martin (leg, out), D Rob Scuderi (ankle, out), G Tomas Vokun (blood clot, out)
Recent Lightning Transactions:
11/24 Recalled Defenseman Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/24 Recalled Forward Nikita Kucherov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/26 Reassigned Defenseman Dmitry Korobov to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/27 Recalled Forward Dana Tyrell from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning have won two straight games and seven consecutive games at home for a 10-2-0 record at the @TBTimesForum.
With their last victory coming against the #Pens in Nov. of 2011, the #TBLightning look to snap their seven-game losing skid vs. Pittsburgh tonight.
The #Bolts @Opalat18’s first shorthanded goal of his career Wednesday was the #TBLightning’s third SH goal this season. They had 1 over the previous 2 seasons.
“He knows where the pucks going to before the puck gets there and when he gets there, he shoots pucks. I know he’s only played in two games and he has a lot to learn about the NHL, but really could show a lot of guys on our team, who have played NHL games, this is how you get shots on goal. I know they didn’t go in for him Wednesday, but when you’re going to keep doing that on a consistent basis you’re going to score goals and he’s putting himself in unbelievable opportunities.” - Head coach Jon Cooper on Nikita Kucherov
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