Nashville 4-5-1; Tampa Bay 5-3-2
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
This is the first of two meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Western Conference’s Nashville Predators. The two clubs met twice during the preseason, splitting the pair of games, despite the Lightning outscoring the Predators 6-3.
Tampa Bay has yet to lose in regulation to the Central Division (4-0-1), including sweeping the division-leading Chicago Blackhawks in a two-game series. The Bolts boast one of the best records against the opposing Western Conference going 7-3-2 thus far this year.
LIGHTNING – Netminder Ben Bishop has hands down been the Bolts most valuable player this campaign and his noteworthy play continued in a 3-2 come-from-behind shootout win over the New York Islanders Tuesday. Putting in a 32-save effort, Bishop prevented the game from getting out of hand and instead gave the Lightning a chance to come out of the contest victorious. Valtteri Filppula took advantage of an Isles team who has often struggled to maintain a lead as he scored two goals, including the game-tying marker with 3.8 seconds left in regulation.
In their second straight victory, Tampa Bay has picked up points in six of their last seven games and notched four of a possible six points on their recent road swing. With a goal of staying .500 on the road the Lightning have maintained and now return to the friendly confines of the Tampa Bay Times Forum where they play four of their next five games.
PREDATORS – Starting to be buried in a division that features the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks as well as the St. Louis Blues, the Preds snapped a three-game winning streak with a 3-1 loss to Chicago Tuesday. As a team known for their discipline Nashville’s lack of structure in the game did not allow them to build any momentum in their favor. The Predators were also only able to score on just one of seven power-plays and did not convert on a Patrick Sharp double-minor near the end of the second period as they continue to lag farther behind in the playoff picture.
Filppula snapped a five-game scoring drought by notching two tallies in the last three minutes of play in Tuesday’s matchup against theIslanders. Filppula, who has not scored multiple goals in a game since November 14, also added a first round shootout goal to help lift the Lightning to a 3-2 win.
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Victor Hedman (lower 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); Predators –F Filip Forsberg (upper body, day-to-day), G Marek Mazanec (illness, day-to-day)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning have picked up points in six of their last seven games, going 4-1-2 during that span.
Five different players on the #Bolts roster have been credited with goals in their past two games (Filppula, @Tjohnny09, @AKillorn19, @JTBrown23).
The #Bolts @BenBishop30 has won four out of his last five games, stopping 147 of the last 156 shots against.
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