Lightning (5-1-1) vs. Predators (4-0-3)
Season Series: Tonight’s game marks the first and only matchup between the Lightning and Predators this season. Tampa Bay holds an 8-4-2-0 advantage against Nashville overall coming into tonight’s contest, which is the 15th overall meeting between the teams.
|Dec 15, 2009||TBL@NSH||NSH, 7 - 4|
The Big Story: Tampa Bay owns the NHL’s highest point total with 11 points and has gained points in each of the previous five games at home against the Predators, a stretch that includes three wins. That could bode well for Tampa Bay, who is just one of three teams in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss at home. The Lightning, 5-1-1 through seven games this season, is off to their best start in years. Steven Stamkos appears to be on the fast track to another outstanding season, as the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner comes into tonight with a league-leading eight goals, three power-play goals and 14 points. The Lightning have also received great play from goaltender Mike Smith, who improved to 4-0-0 for the first time in his career and has won his previous three decisions at home. Goaltender Dan Ellis will face his former team tonight for the first time.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returned from Atlanta Friday night following a 5-2 win and will play its first of two games at home tonight before hitting the road to the west coast next weekend. The Lightning won their seventh consecutive game against the Thrashers on Friday behind Steven Stamkos’ second career hat trick and Mike Smith’s 28-save performance. Brett Clark and Vincent Lecavalier also had goals for the Lightning, who set a season-high record with 20 blocked shots.
PREDATORS – Nashville wraps up a two-game road swing tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum, as it plays in back end of a back-to-back set, following a 1-0 win in Dallas last night. The victory was Nashville’s first in its last four attempts, as the Predators were led by Cal O’Reilly who scored the game’s lone goal just 42 seconds into the game. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in goal and earned his 15th career shutout.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos comes in with eight points in his past three games, while Martin St. Louis and Victor Hedman each come in with four points in their last three. Sean Bergenheim also has three points in as many games played. Nashville’s Cody Franson, David Legwand and Jordin Tootoo each have two points in their last four games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, out 2 weeks); PREDATORS – Marcel Goc (separated shoulder, out 2-4 weeks), Ryan Suter (lower body, out next 3 games) and Matthew Lombardi (concussion, out indefinitely).
Quotable: “The one focus we have is we are going to play a five-minute game. We are going to play the first five minutes as if this were a playoff game, a seventh game, the last five minutes to win the championship.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher, on how he wants his team to play each game
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