Last 10: Tampa Bay (7-2-1); Vancouver (8-2-0)
Season Series: Tampa Bay and Vancouver face off for the first and only time this season. The Lightning look to even up their home record in the all-time series as they goes for their fifth win, a mark buoyed by the team’s last victory over Vancouver at the St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 31, 2008.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has won three in a row and is looking to put together its first four-game winning streak since November 2007. The Lightning earned at least a point for the seventh time out of the last eight on Saturday against Calgary, maintaining the team’s eighth position in the East’s playoff picture with 61 points. Tampa Bay is 9-1-2 in its last 12 games at home, while Vancouver has won eight of the last 10 overall. Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund will square off against his former team tonight, with whom he spent the first 11 years of his NHL career. Likewise, Vancouver defensemen Brad Lukowich and Shane O’Brien make their return to the St. Pete Times Forum tonight after having spent time in Tampa Bay in recent years.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will play its third game of four on its current home stand tonight. The Bolts come in as winners in seven out of the last 10 and have put together a run of 6-1-1 in their last eight, outscoring the opposition 20-12 in those contests. The Lightning have not lost in regulation at home since Jan. 14, extending the unbeaten streak through 60 minutes on Saturday in a 2-1 overtime win against Calgary. Steven Stamkos hit a career-high nine-game point streak with his seventh goal in that span, erasing a one-goal deficit, and Andrej Meszaros netted the game-winner nearly two minutes into overtime. Antero Niittymaki made 25 saves to improve to 6-0-1 in his last
seven starts with a .963 save percentage and a 1.10 goals-against average. The Tampa Bay net minder has stopped 206 of the last 214 shots and has not allowed more than two goals in a game since Jan. 19.
CANUCKS – Vancouver continues the longest road stretch in NHL history tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Canucks are in the midst of 14 straight games away from General Motors Place due to the Olympics, and have split the first four with four more before the break. Roberto Luongo made 41 saves as Vancouver avoided a third straight loss with Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win at Boston. The Canucks rallied from a 2-0 deficit after one period, getting a pair of goals from Pavol Demitra and an additional tally from Mason Raymond.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos has recorded seven goals and 14 points over a career-high nine-game point streak and Martin St. Louis has recorded at least a point in the last nine out of 10 contests, including five goals and three assists in six straight. Steve Downie has also collected four assists in three games for the Lightning.
- Vancouver’s Pavol Demitra has three goals in as many games and Mason Raymond has picked up a pair of points in his last two.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – David Hale (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve). CANUCKS – Kevin Bieksa (leg), Willie Mitchell (upper body) and Alex Bolduc (shoulder).
Quotable: “The guy works. He’s one of those guys where you have to almost kick him off the ice. He’s square to the puck, he very rarely is off kilter. He had those couple of games there where he was off kilter, and he just somehow can get himself back really quick. He’s not really one of those goaltenders that loses it for a couple of weeks because they lose their angles. He can get it back pretty quick.” – Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet regarding goaltender Antero Niittymaki
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