Rangers 3-5-2; Tampa Bay 6-1-3
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
With the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers playing for the first time a month earlier at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Rangers and Bolts meet again Sunday. In the first matchup Tampa Bay won 5-0 as netminder Ben Bishop stopped all 37 shots he faced in the winning effort.
After snapping their season-high five-game winning streak Saturday, the Lightning hope to respond less than 24 hours later against the Rangers. In the second half of back-to-back tilts the Bolts boast a 4-0-1 record.
LIGHTNING – Despite the Montreal Canadiens having seven days in between games, the Bolts seemed to be a tad rustier Saturday, registering nine shots on net through two periods of play. The Lightning managed to turn things around in the final frame, but the two clubs headed to overtime with the game locked at one. Unable to score in the overtime period the Habs and Lightning went to a shootout for the second time this series and Montreal's lone shootout goal in the first round became the game-winner in a 2-1 final.
Now after 65-plus minutes of hockey played Saturday Tampa Bay must re-lace the skates to face a Rangers team who arrived in Florida Friday evening. Having one of the best home records in the conference it is also a last chance effort for the Lightning to pick-up valuable points as they try to keep pace with the Boston Bruins. The Bolts currently trail their Atlantic Division foe by four points.
RANGERS – The Blueshirts did not start their five-game road trip the way they intended, especially since they boast the fifth-best record for road wins in the Eastern Conference (16).
Washington jumped ahead early in the first with a power-play goal from Mike Green, but the two teams exchanged goals in the second, including a Rangers goal on the man advantage, for a 2-1 game by the end of 40. The Rangers special teams struck again to even things at two with a shorthanded tally from Carl Hagelin, but Eric Fehr's marker with just more than five minutes in the third was the difference for the Caps in a 3-2 win.
With Anton Stralman leaving the game after the first period Friday with an undisclosed injury the Blueshirts have been suffering on the backend. Blueliner Marc Staal has been out with a concussion as well. Staal's participation during the morning skate prior to their game versus the Capitals was perfect timing though, as he said he is set to return to team practices. Ryan Callahan is also sporting a brace and has been skating separately from the Rangers as he recovers from a sprained MCL.
Martin St. Louis' goal in the second period of Saturday's contest gives him points in six straight games. During that span he has notched four goals and four assists and the Lightning have a 5-0-1 record.
12/27 – Recalled D Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Eric Brewer (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Ryan Malone (lower body, out), D Sami Salo (undisclosed, day-to-day), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Rangers – F Ryan Callahan (sprained MCL, out), D Marc Staal (concussion, out), D Anton Stralman (undisclosed, day-to-day)
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