Last 10: TAMPA BAY (5-2-3); COLORADO (2-5-3)
Season Series: Tonight is the first of two meetings this season between the two clubs. Just more than a week from now, on Dec. 11, the Lightning will travel to the Pepsi Center to wrap up the final contest of the series until next season.
The Big Story: The Lightning have an 8-3-1-2 all-time record at home against Colorado, and appear to have the edge tonight as well, as they face an Avalanche team who has won just two games in their last 10. Tampa Bay is also unbeaten in regulation this season against Western Conference opponents, going 3-0-3, including a 2-0-1 mark at the St. Pete Times Forum.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts return home tonight for their fourth game in six nights following a one-game stint on the road at Dallas. Tonight’s game is the fourth this season that falls on a Monday night, in which the Bolts have posted a 2-1 mark, including a 1-0 record at home. In his last two starts, goaltender Mike Smith has played well, highlighted by his performance on Nov. 27 against the Rangers in which he stopped 26 shots on 27 against. He is also unbeaten in regulation in two career starts against the Avalanche, with a 1-0-1 record and a 0.96 goals against average. The Lightning defensemen have continued to contribute offensively, as both Andrej Meszaros and Victor Hedman recorded assists in Saturday’s game against the Stars. Three Bolts blue-liners also earned a +1 rating in the game.
AVALANCHE – This is the first of a five-game road trip for the Avs. Colorado hasn't had a problem starting strong lately, but closing out their opponents has been a major concern. Colorado posts a .571 winning percentage when scoring first, but ranks in the bottom three of the NHL in winning percentage when leading after two periods. The Avalanche look to end that trend against Tampa Bay, but enter tonight’s matchup having dropped three consecutive games. Colorado, however, will use their 5-0-0 record against Eastern Conference opponents this season to their advantage.
- Steven Stamkos has recorded points in four straight games, tallying three goals and four assists in that span.
- Paul Szczechura (two goals) and Victor Hedman (two assists) each have two points in as many games.
- Colorado’s Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Wojtek Wolski have each totaled a pair of points over their last two contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day); AVALANCHE – Kyle Cumiskey (foot, placed on Injured Reserve), T.J. Galiardi (back, day-to-day), Milan Hejduk (knee, day-to-day), Ruslan Salei (back, placed on Injured Reserve).
Quotable: “We [our line] have some speed on our side with those guys [James Wright and Steve Downie] and I think we just kind of use that to our advantage. We’re just out there to create some energy and to hopefully contribute on the score sheet.” – Lightning forward Paul Szczechura, who has scored two goals in his last two games.
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