The Fifth Time Around
Monday marks the fifth and final meeting between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators this season. It is also the two clubs' second game against each other in four days.
Though the Lightning have not had trouble with facing the Senators four times already since December, they did find giving up another late lead on Thursday bothersome.
Ryan Callahan seemed to solidify Ottawa's fate with eight minutes left in the game by giving the Bolts a two-goal cushion, but Milan Michalek brought the Senators within one with 2:02 to go.
"They did a good job of coming back and not giving up in the third period," Teddy Purcell said. "We've had some trouble of closing teams the past little while, so we need to focus and stick to our game."
Ottawa continued to press and with 55.1 seconds to go in regulation a Lightning penalty gave the Senators a 6-on-4 situation with the goalie pulled and an extra attacker on the ice.
The Bolts held out to win the game, 5-4, but said the late penalty along with the six shorthanded situations they faced Saturday versus the Penguins have been a point of emphasis heading into Monday's game. In that span Tampa Bay has surrendered four power-play goals on 11 opportunities.
"That was the theme of our video session today, to be better on the penalty kill," Steven Stamkos said. "One way to get better is to not put yourself in that situation."
"It was uncharacteristic of us to give up so many goals against the Penguins, who have the best power play in the league," Purcell said. "It cost us in the end and tonight we're definitely going to be more cautious of that."
With discipline at their forefront the Bolts will have to be aware of Erik Karlsson's presence on the ice too. Not only does he lead the league in goals by a defenseman (65), but he scored a tally on the power play last Thursday. Head coach Jon Cooper called him one of the NHL's "top-tier defenseman."
A HEALTHY COMPARISON
Ottawa has remained one of the healthiest teams in the NHL all season, recording just 53 total man games lost due to injury.
On the other hand Tampa Bay is a completely healthy team (excluding Brian Lee and Mattias Ohlund) for the first time since October.
"The big key is Stamkos is getting better with each game," Cooper said. "We're also finding consistency in our lines and we're getting production from these guys that sat out; everybody's chipping in."
The Bolts enter the contest with 177 man games lost due to injury during the 2013-14 season.
"You feel really fortunate to play that many games in this league. You have to stay healthy and this year's been a little rough for me in that department, but it's pretty rewarding to know the hard work you've put in for that many games in the best league in the world is a pretty cool milestone."
-Center Steven Stamkos, on playing in his 400th game Monday
EXPECTED LINES AND SCRATCHES
Expected lines for tonight:
Expected scratches: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, B.J. Crombeen and Richard Panik
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
- Goaltender Ben Bishop was first off the ice for the Bolts today and Cooper said "he should be in tonight."
- Tampa Bay is seeking their fifth straight victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and are 7-3-0 against the Senators at home since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.