The Tampa Bay Lightning will open their home schedule today when they host the New Jersey Devils at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay (0-1-1) earned their first point of the season on Tuesday night when they lost in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1. Ryan Malone picked up his first goal of the season on a power play early in the second period. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos earned assists. St. Louis now has two goals and three points in two games.
The Lightning and the Devils squared off four times last season with Tampa Bay posting a 0-1-3 record. In the season series two of the games went into the shootout.before they were decided.
Coach Rick Tocchet has said he plans to ice the same lineup that he employed against the Hurricanes, which means Mike Smith will be in net and David Hale will start on defense, replacing Kurtis Foster, who is nursing a lower body injury. Tocchet would not rule him out for Saturday’s game against Carolina though.
Overall, Tocchet had praise for the effort of his club against Carolina, especially after he and the coaching staff had some time to review the video.
“I feel better now about last night than I did after the game,” Tocchet said. “The guys worked hard.”
Thursday’s game will be the start of a three-game road trip for New Jersey, their first of the season. They will be looking to get on track after dropping their first two games at home, to the Flyers and Rangers.
There are several changes for the Devils this season, as Jacques Lemaire takes over the coaching reins for his second tour of duty with the club. Additionally, New Jersey no longer features Brian Gionta, who produced 20 goals and 40 assists for them last season. That sort of production is difficult to replace, but the Devils are counting on forward Nicklas Bergfors, rapidly improving winger David Clarkson and recently signed Rob Niedermayer to bridge the gap.
Veteran all-star Martin Brodeur continues to occupy the crease for the Devils, backed up by recent arrival Yann Danis.
Following tonight’s home opener, the Lightning will host a rematch with Carolina on Saturday and a visit from cross-state rival Florida on Monday, before setting out on a two-game road trip.
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