Lightning (8-6-2, 18 Points) vs. Wild (7-6-2, 16 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-5-1); Minnesota (5-4-1)
Season Series: This is the first and only meeting this year between the two clubs. Tampa Bay won the lone contest last season, also at the St. Pete Times Forum, on Steven Stamkos’ goal in the shootout, which came after Ryan Malone tied the game with just 14 seconds left in regulation.
The Big Story: Tonight’s contest features two of the NHL’s best special teams units. Minnesota comes in as the top ranked team on the power play at 27.7% and Tampa Bay enters tonight’s game with the sixth-best mark at 22.5%. The Lightning hold an edge in penalty killing, ranked second with an 89.9% success rate, while the Wild hold the sixth position at 87.5%. Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and Wild forward Matt Cullen also come in as the league's top two men on the power play, with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returns home tonight, where it has gained points in all but one game this season, following a two-game road set in Washington and Pittsburgh. The Lightning come into tonight on a two-game losing streak and have lost five of the last six, including the team’s most recent setback Friday night in Pittsburgh. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each extended their point streaks, but Pittsburgh got three goals in the final period to put the game away and a earn a 5-1 victory.
WILD – Minnesota enters tonight’s game as losers in two straight, with both defeats coming against Southeast Division opponents. Prior to the two-game skid, the Wild had won three in a row. The Wild also wraps up a four-game road trip tonight in Tampa before returning home to take on the Detroit on Wednesday. Minnesota has struggled to score goals lately, totaling only two in their previous two games, which were both one-goal decisions. Minnesota fell to the Panthers Friday night, getting a power-play goal from Cal Clutterbuck. Jose Theodore also made 25 stops, but Florida scored two first-period goals in a span of 53 seconds before holding off Minnesota for the remainder of regulation.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos has a goal in four straight and comes in with a four-game point streak that also includes seven points. Martin St. Louis also is riding a four-game point streak with five points in that span. Minnesota’s Martin Havalt has points in four of five and Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck each have three points in their last four. Brent Burns has three points in as many games for the Wild as well.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Vincent Lecavalier (hand, out 3-4 weeks), Simon Gagne (neck, placed on Injured Reserve) and Steve Downie (upper body, day-to-day). WILD – Chuck Kobasew (groin), Guillaume Latendresse (groin), Marek Zidlicky (groin), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Josh Harding (knee) and James Sheppard (knee surgery).
Quotable: “It's always tough when you lose guys. At the same time, a lot of teams deal with this kind of stuff. It's not like we're out of every game.” – Nate Thompson, on the team’s injuries and the effect on the club
tampabaylightning.com is the official Web site of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Lightning and tampabaylightning.com are trademarks of Lightning Hockey L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Lightning Hockey, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.