Last 10: Tampa Bay (3-4-3); New Jersey (6-3-1)
Season Series: New Jersey has found success in Tampa Bay this season, winning the first two of four contests at the St. Pete Times Forum on Oct. 8 and Oct. 31. Both victories came in the shootout. Tonight marks the third meeting between the two clubs and the Lightning’s first in 2009-10 at the Prudential Center. The Bolts will make one final stop in New Jersey to finish off the season series on Jan. 8.
The Big Story: The Devils will go for their 10th win in a row over the Lightning as Tampa Bay tries to avoid its first four-game skid of the season. The Lightning’s leading goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, has four goals in his last three contests against New Jersey including two in the season’s first meeting.
LIGHTNING – This is the final contest of a pair of road games before the Bolts return home to the Times Forum for a three-games-in-five-nights home stand beginning with the Islanders tomorrow. The Lightning split contests in their last multi-game stretch at home, earning two points with a 5-1 rout of the Rangers on the day after Thanksgiving. Tonight also marks the first game of the team’s fourth back-to-back set this season. The Lightning’s defense was restored to full health as Mattias Ohlund returned to action on Nov. 30 after missing time due to a lower body injury. The Bolts bolstered the blue line even further with the recall of Matt Smaby from AHL Norfolk prior to Wednesday’s game at Boston, and look to spark the offense with the addition of center Blair Jones who was also brought up from the team’s AHL affiliate.
DEVILS – Tonight’s game is the third of a four-game home stand for New Jersey, who comes in with two out of a possible four points on the current set. New Jersey beat the Islanders 6-1 on Nov. 28 before falling to Vancouver on Wednesday which snapped the club’s six-game home winning streak. The Devils conclude the stretch at home tomorrow against Detroit before heading to Buffalo. If goaltender Martin Brodeur starts in net tonight, he can tie Terry Sawchuk’s NHL record of 103 career shutouts. Offensively, Zach Parise has continued to mark the score sheet for the Devils, despite having his 10-game point streak snapped against the Canucks.
Who’s Hot: - Steven Stamkos has five points in as many games and Jeff Halpern and Steve Downie each have tallied three points in their last five as well.
- The Devils’ Zach Parise has 15 points over his last 11 games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – None; DEVILS – David Clarkson (ankle, out four-six weeks), Dainius Zubrus (leg, out four-six weeks), Johnny Oduya (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve), Paul Martin (arm, out four-six weeks), and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder, out four-six weeks).
Quotable: “It’s nice to get out there and it’s pretty exciting. It’s been a long couple of months, but I like the way things are going with me and I like where I am right now.” – Defenseman Matt Smaby, who recently returned to NHL action after being recalled from AHL Norfolk.
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