Lightning (14-9-3, 31 Points) vs. Avalanche (13-9-2, 28 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-3-1); Colorado (6-3-1)
Season Series: This is the first and only meeting between the two teams. Last season, Colorado took both matchups, splitting a pair of victories in each team’s arena.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has gained points in three straight at home, but have gone just 1-2-1 since stringing together a five-game winning streak, which was the team’s longest of the season. The Lightning are desperately seeking a win, which would help stave off the Atlanta Thrashers who trail the Bolts by just two points in the division and also capture an additional pair of points before the team heads out to Western Canada for a three-game road trip starting next week.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays at home for the first time tonight to host the Avalanche since coming back from a two-game road trip in the Northeast this past week. This is the Bolts’ lone game at the St. Pete Times Forum until Dec. 15, which will follow a three-game road trip through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The Lightning battle the Avalanche tonight on Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night, which has been kind to the Bolts since the annual event started over a decade ago. Tampa Bay has an all-time record of 10-0-0 since 1999 on this night and looks to continue the streak of victories this evening with a win over the Avalanche. The Lightning also are expected to bounce back from an 8-1 loss Thursday night in Boston, which was the team’s worst defeat of the season.
AVALANCHE – Colorado wraps up the second half of a back-to-back set this evening at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tonight’s contest is the second of five to be played both on the road and against Southeast Division opponents. Following tonight’s matchup, the Avalanche will travel to Sunrise for a date with the Panthers on Tuesday before traveling through Atlanta and Washington on the way back home to Denver. The Southeast stretch got started last night with a 2-1 overtime loss at Carolina. Milan Hejduk scored a third-period goal to force the extra session, but Brandon Sutter netted the game-winner at 1:16 to give the Hurricanes the win.
Who’s Hot: Ryan Malone is leading the Lightning with four points in his last three games, while Sean Bergenheim and Teddy Purcell each have two points in their last three. Kevin Shattenkirk is riding an eight-game point streak with 11 points in that span for Colorado, and Milan Hejduk has four goals and four assists in his last six. Matt Duchene also has four goals in five contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Vincent Lecavalier (hand, placed on Injured Reserve) and Steve Downie (ankle sprain, out indefinitely). AVALANCHE – Kyle Cumiskey (head, out indefinitely), TJ Galiardi (wrist, out indefinitely), Peter Mueller (head, out indefinitely), David Van Der Gulik (knee, out indefinitely) and Chris Stewart (hand, out 4-6 weeks).
Quotable: “We've both put some wins together and had some big games, but consistency has to be there. You can't doubt yourself. You have to go out there and play your game. You've got to let decisions fall in other places.” – Dan Ellis, on the topic of Lightning goaltending
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