Homestand concludes tonight against the Ducks
The Lightning get back at it tonight after Wednesday's 3-0 shutout win against Montreal riding their longest winning streak of the season. The run has helped the Bolts close the game to one point in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It has been a little bit of everything that has helped the Lightning get back into it. During recent games, the team has received great goaltending, improved defense, better special teams play and offense from its key players as well as chip-in goals from role players. All in all, that is a pretty good recipe for success.
Rick Tocchet said the team needs to be weary though, and realize there is much more work to be done. "We can feel good about ourselves because we've won three in a row, but we're in 12th place," Tocchet said. "There is no excuse to not leave it on the ice."
Taking on an opponent from the Western Conference doesn’t make a difference either according to Tocchet, "No matter if its East or West we have to be on high alert. It is a critical time and that shouldn't even be in our thinking."
One thing is for sure, the Bolts will be riding a hot goaltender. Antero Niittymaki will get the start again. He has been remarkable on this home stand, posting a 3-0-0 record with a .968 save percentage and a 0.95 goals-against average. Tocchet openly said that Niittymaki won the game last Saturday against Atlanta by himself.
It was good seeing two former Bolts today at the morning skate. Forward Evgeny Artyukhin will be making his first appearance at the St. Pete Times Forum as a visitor tonight after being traded to the Ducks during the summer. Defenseman Steve Eminger, who was traded to Florida at last season's trade deadline, is also on the Ducks.
Yesterday, Ice Operations Manager Tom Miracle served Kurtis Foster with an invoice for all the broken panes of glass that were caused by his thunderous slap shot. Miracle was even prepared with a payroll deduction form. Thankfully for Foster it was all a practical joke and he had a good laugh after learning the truth. By his count, Foster has broken the glass three times this season.