Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-4-1); New York (5-2-3)
Season Series: Tampa Bay comes into Madison Square Garden for the first time this season and looks to take a two-game season series edge over the Rangers, who they defeated 5-1 at the St. Pete Times Forum on Nov. 27. Martin St. Louis was named the game’s first star after tying a season-high with three assists and Mike Smith made 26 stops on 27 shots. Kurtis Foster also had two goals for the Bolts, which set a career-high. The two clubs will square off again in New York on Feb. 14 and in Tampa Bay on Apr. 2.
The Big Story: Vincent Lecavalier and Jeff Halpern each come in on four-game point streaks. The Tampa Bay line mates look to continue their scoring trend and are at an advantage, as the Rangers rank towards the bottom of the league in goals allowed at home with 70. The Bolts have also had great success in the conclusion of back-to-back games this season, amassing a 4-1-1 record, while totaling nine out of a possible 12 points, all on the road. They picked up wins on Nov. 3 at Toronto, Nov. 22 at Atlanta, Dec. 5 at New York and Dec. 18 at St. Louis. Tampa Bay also picked up a point in an overtime loss to Dallas on Nov. 28 before falling to Philadelphia on Jan. 9. In those games, the Lightning have outscored the opposition 20-15.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay has won two of its last four on the road and seeks its second straight tonight, as it looks to finish off a three-game road swing at Madison Square Garden in the final game of the team’s seventh back-to-back set this season. Vincent Lecavalier, Steve Downie and Jeff Halpern all tallied points in last night’s 3-2 win at Carolina and Antero Niittymaki made 20 of 22 stops in his third consecutive start to extend his career record against the Hurricanes to 7-2-2. Lecavalier scored on the power play and Downie added his first game-winner of the season in the win, while Halpern recorded an assist. The Bolts are close to being at full health once again, as Matt Smaby was removed from the Injured Reserve list, leaving only Mike Smith as the only remaining Lightning player out with an injury.
RANGERS – New York wraps up a two-game set at home tonight before traveling to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the Flyers. The Rangers have lost four of six, including two out of the last three at home, but will go for their second straight win at the Garden tonight after beating Montreal 6-2 on Sunday in front of the home crowd. Ryan Callahan notched four points in the contest, which tied a career-high, and Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky each totaled three points in the victory, snapping a three-game winless streak.
Who’s Hot: Vincent Lecavalier has nine points in his last eight, including three on the power play, and Jeff Halpern has totaled four points in as many games.
- Brandon Dubinsky has amassed six points in his last five for the Rangers and Marian Gaborik has totaled four in his last five as well.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mike Smith (cervical strain, placed on Injured Reserve retro-active to Jan. 12, day-to-day). RANGERS – None.
Quotable: “We obviously have to play our best to get points. Our penalty kill has had a tough little stretch here so we’ve talked about it a lot in the last couple of days and we were fortunate to kill those off [against Carolina]. It builds a lot of confidence. Absolutely.” – Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund
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