Tampa Bay 4-5-1; Columbus 4-4-2
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
Tuesday is the first of three meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bolts have won three straight against the Blue Jackets, including a 4-2 victory in their most recent matchup on January 24, 2012.
With just two wins in their past eight home games, Columbus is facing a Bolts’ team that suffered four straight losses on their latest road swing. Both teams have found success just four times in their past 10 games.
LIGHTNING – Collecting four out of a possible six points last week, Tampa Bay heads to Columbus with their heads held high, despite being shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday. A break down in the backcheck and a fluky goal off of blueliner Victor Hedman’s foot led to a 2-0 deficit against the Metropolitan Division foe and would be the difference. The third marker was an empty-netter. Head coach Jon Cooper was not unhappy afterward, saying that it was just a game where the puck was unable to make it in the net.
With that being said, the Lightning worked on driving the net and spending time in the offensive zone in their past two longer-than-usual practices. After slowly increasing their shots on goal over their past few games, the Bolts slipped back into the low 20s in their latest tilt. They would like the number of shots on net to increase Tuesday.
As far as injuries are concerned, defenseman Radko Gudas’ return is, at the earliest, expected on Saturday, but that remains to be determined, while forward Tom Pyatt continues to practice in a red, no-contact jersey.
BLUE JACKETS – The Blue Jackets went into their latest contest confident against the Boston Bruins, after defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, the game prior. Columbus had lost to Edmonton in a 7-0 rout a week earlier. However head coach Todd Richards said the team looked one step behind the Bruins in a 3-1 loss Saturday.
Despite the momentum, the Blue Jackets cannot seem to string together a win streak, going 0-5-1 in games after a win since winning two in a row on October 22 and October 25. They have also been not been able to stay out of the penalty box with 16 penalties in their past two games, including 10 minutes of shorthanded time Saturday.
Forward Brandon Dubinsky, who has not played since November 19 due to a right ankle ailment, is slated to return to the lineup tonight. Columbus also claimed forward Corey Tropp off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres and has played in the past two games with the Blue Jackets.
With the league’s 10th-best penalty kill (84.8%), the Lightning unit has killed-off 60 of their past 67 penalties in 21 games.
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); Blue Jackets – F Derek Mackenzie (back, out), Jared Boll (left foot, out)
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’s @TJohnny09 and Richard Panik are both in the Top 15 in rookie scoring in the @NHL.
The #Bolts tied a franchise record for wins in November (eight) set in 2005-06 and their 33 points through 26 games is a team-best.
After each shutout loss this season (three), the #TBLightning have won the very next game.
Four of the last five meetings between the #BlueJackets and the #TBLightning have been decided by one goal.
The #Bolts @BenBishop30 has made 104 saves on his last 107 shots faced over his past three games.
“We came in to play defense and for the most part we’ve done that this year. Aside from the few lapses, I really like the way we’ve played team defense. You never predict to lose your top goal-scorer, but we did and it tested what our game plan was from the get-go. If we want to be in the playoff hunt come March and April, we need to stick to that plan and so far so good.” – Head coach Jon Cooper on the way the Bolts have played thus far
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