Last 10: Tampa Bay (2-6-2); Chicago (6-3-1)
Season Series: Tonight is the first and final meeting between the two clubs this season.
The Big Story: The injuries to Lightning forwards Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos were not as serious as originally thought. Both players, who ranks first and second on the team in goals this season, appeared in the Bolts’ last game on Friday at Colorado. The timing of Stamkos’ return is fitting, as he will face Chicago for the first time since recording his first NHL career hat trick against the Blackhawks back in February of this year.
LIGHTNING – Tonight marks the second contest of the Lightning’s six-games-in-eleven-nights road trip. Despite not appearing in goal since Dec. 4, Antero Niittymaki was brilliant for the Lightning on Friday night against Colorado at the Pepsi Center. The Lightning goaltender stopped 33 of 34 shots and helped earn the Lightning a point on their current road trip, the longest of the season. Offensively, Steve Downie netted yet another goal for Tampa Bay on Friday, which gives him four points in his last six games entering tonight. The Bolts continue to succeed in drawing penalties away from the St. Pete Times Forum, coming into tonight’s game tied for fifth in the NHL in power play opportunities on the road with 73.
BLACKHAWKS – This is Chicago’s first game in a five-game home stand. Coming off of a 2-1 loss to the Sabres on Friday, the Blackhawks have been struggling offensively. Despite the addition of recently returned winger Marian Hossa, Chicago has scored just 10 goals in its last seven games. In addition, the Blackhawks have only scored once in 5-on-5 action this month and have also converted just four of their last 27 power play opportunities. The play of goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, however, has helped the team salvage a 3-3-1 mark since its 7-2 win at San Jose on Nov. 25.
Who’s Hot: - Steve Downie has four points in his last six games and Martin St. Louis has tallied three points in his last two.
- Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier has also recorded two points in as many contests.
- Chicago’s Patrick Kane has totaled three points, also in as many contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – None; BLACKHAWKS – Adam Burish (placed on Injured Reserve) and Dave Bolland (placed on Injured Reserve).
Quotable: “I think we need to keep it simple. It’s just a matter of executing and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.” – Lightning forward Alex Tanguay
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