The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their road swing when they visit Pittsburgh to play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins at Mellon Arena tonight.
The Lightning (2-2-2-) will look to climb back on the bandwagon which saw them win two consecutive games before falling to the Ottawa Senators Thursday night, 7-1.
But tonight will be no easy task.
The Penguins (6-1-0) are opening a five-game homestand against the Bolts; they are sitting atop the standings in the competitive Atlantic Division and they are riding a four-game win streak. If that wasn’t enough for the Lightning, try this: Pittsburgh has been resting up since Wednesday night when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout, 3-2.
Tampa Bay, however, has some forgetting to do. Thursday’s loss is a game the Lightning would just like to put behind them, and statistically, it certainly appears to be an aberration. For one, Tampa Bay mustered just 17 shots on goal while the team average for the season in that category is a hefty 33.3 shots a game, good enough for fifth best in the NHL. Additionally, the Lightning entered the game with a 22.2 % success rate on the power play and had scored with the extra attacker at least once every game, until the power play unit went 0 for 6 against Ottawa and allowed two shorthanded goals.
On the plus side, Ryan Malone scored his sixth goal of the season, and fifth score in the last three games. Malone and his linemates, Marty St. Louis and center Steven Stamkos have accounted for 12 of the 16 goals the Lightning have scored on the season. St. Louis picked up an assist on Malone’s tally to extend his scoring streak to six games
The Penguins boast an array of stars, most notably Sidney Crosby with four goals on the season and Evgeni Malkin, who is pacing Pittsburgh with nine points.
Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury leads all NHL goaltenders with a 6-0 win record. His goals against average is a stingy 2.27.
Tampa Bay will need to overcome a tendency of starting slowly - they have not gotten the first goal in any of their six games this season – while the Pens have not lost a game yet in which they recorded the initial goal.
Tonight’s contest will be the last in this short road trip for the Lightning. They return to the St. Pete Times Forum next Thursday to open a four-game homestand against the San Jose Sharks.
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