The Tampa Bay Lightning open a four-game home stand when they host the San Jose Sharks tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. It will also be ‘Go Green Night’ with fans receiving free tickets for riding their bikes or discounts for recycling their used phone books. A number of other ticket discounts are also available. ( More information on Go Green Night here ).
The Lightning (2-3-2) are anxious to see whether four days of home cooking and home-ice practices can cure their recent woes as they look to end a two-game losing streak.
Martin St. Louis, tied for fourth in the NHL scoring race with 11 points, is on a seven-game scoring streak. Ryan Malone has contributed six goals, good enough for third place among all NHL skaters.
It’s a calculated move by Tocchet designed to get Lecavalier producing at the level he is capable of. Tocchet has seen St. Louis and Lecavalier create scoring sparks in the past. The move is a big opportunity for Wright, who has only played in seven NHL games, but Tocchet was optimistic that the youngster can handle the spot.
“Obviously, he’s on that line to forecheck. Whoever is on that line is going to dog the puck,” Tocchet said.
As for Lecavalier, Tocchet had a succinct message.
“I told Vinny he has to get ugly. He has to get in front of the net,” Tocchet said. “It’s not always the big shot.”
After watching Mike Smith excel at practice on Sunday, Tocchet said he expects the net minder will get the starting nod tonight. Smith is still looking for his first win this season.
San Jose (5-3-1) is atop the Pacific Division standings with 11 points and arrives sporting a two-game win streak, including a 7-3 trouncing of the New York Rangers Monday night in New York. Their early season success is all the more impressive in light of the schedule they have contended with; six road games to only three games at home. Tonight’s game is the fourth in a six-game tour of the Eastern Seaboard.
The Sharks are an offensive powerhouse, with three forwards, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau among the top ten scorers in the league. With that sort of production, along with former Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle directing the power play, it’s little wonder that the Sharks are converting 26.8% of their extra man opportunities.
Netminder Evgeni Nabokov has been impressive in the San Jose goal, compiling a 2.67 goals-against average. He reached a career milestone Monday night in New York when he appeared in his 500th NHL game.
Following tonight’s contest, the Buffalo Sabres arrive to challenge the Lightning at the St. Pete Tiimes Forum on Saturday night.
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