Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-3-1); New York (3-7-0)
Season Series: This is the third of four meetings this season, with the teams splitting the first two contests. Tampa Bay picked up two points on Nov. 27 with a 5-1 win in front of the home crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum and New York evened the season series at the Garden with a victory back on Jan. 19.
The Big Story: This afternoon marks the last game before the two-week hiatus that is the Olympic break. Tampa Bay is looking to head into the pause in play with an important win today against the Blueshirts, as the Lightning are just one point out of the final playoff spot in the East with 63 points. Today’s game also proves to be just as important for the Rangers, who with 61 points trail Tampa Bay in the conference standings by just one game. Lightning forward Steven Stamkos will attempt to tie the franchise record of 13 consecutive games with a point, a mark to which he inched closer on Saturday with a pair of points against the Islanders.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will finish out a two-game road swing in the second half of the team’s eighth back-to-back set this season. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each extended their point streaks to 12 and nine games respectively in the team’s 5-4 loss to the Islanders on Saturday, as did Steve Downie whose own run stands at a career-high six games thanks to a late goal in the contest. Stamkos scored and had an assist for the Lightning, who also received goals from Mike Lundin and Nate Thompson. They’ll look to rebound this afternoon in the final match on consecutive days, where Tampa Bay is 4-2-1 this season and have earned nine out of a possible 14 points despite being outscored 22-23 in those games.
RANGERS – New York returns home for today’s match after defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins on Friday at Mellon Arena. Olli Jokinen scored 1:02 into overtime to cap a victory in which the Rangers played with only 16 skaters much of the night due to injuries that knocked both Michael Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik out early in the game. Brandon Dubinksy and Vinny Prospal also scored for New York, who won for just the third time in the last 11 games. They come into today, however, as winners in two of the last three.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos is riding a team season-high and career-high 12-game point streak with nine goals and 12 assists over that span. Martin St. Louis has amassed 16 points in nine straight, while Steve Downie has three goals and five assists in his last six games.
- New York’s Olli Jokinen has recorded three points in his last two contests and former Lightning forward Vinny Prospal enters today with a pair of points in as many games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – David Hale (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve); RANGERS – None.
Quotable: “The team has been winning lately. We’ve shown bursts of good hockey, the type of hockey we need to be in the playoffs. But we need to be a little more consistent. We have to find a way to play better down the stretch.” – Lightning forward Steven Stamkos
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