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Lightning (26-15-5, 57 Points) vs. Blue Jackets (21-20-4, 46 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-5-0); (4-5-1)
Season Series: This is the first and only meeting of the season between the two clubs and just the 11th matchup overall in the history of the teams. Columbus earned a 3-2 home victory in the most recent meeting on Mar. 30 of last season, but Tampa Bay has won two in a row at home versus the Blue Jackets, as well as four of five overall matchups at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay seeks to get back on the winning track, which propelled them into sole possession of first place in the division as recently as a week ago. But the Lightning have lost four of their last six meetings, while also surrendering five or more goals in each of those defeats. They’ll be looking for a big two points tonight after Washington tied them at the top of the Southeast Division with 57 points following a 3-1 win Sunday over Ottawa.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returns home tonight to face the Blue Jackets following a 6-4 road loss to the division-rival Hurricanes on Saturday night. Much like the last two games, the team will alternate play at home and on the road in the next pair of games, including tonight’s matchup at the Times Forum and in Atlanta on Thursday. Guy Boucher, as well as the members of his team, acknowledged their own mistakes as the reason for Saturday’s 6-4 defeat at Carolina, which scored four power-play goals in the win. With the taxing schedule recently that has included games on consecutive nights as well as a lot of travel, Boucher gave the team the day off from practice yesterday in order to recuperate and get ready for this evening’s game.
BLUE JACKETS – Columbus visits Tampa Bay for the first time in nearly two years, having last come to the St. Pete Times Forum in March of the 2008-09 season. The Blue Jackets continue their four-game road trip tonight, as tonight’s meeting with the Lightning marks the second game of the team’s current swing away from home. Columbus has struggled lately to climb in the standings, having lost six of the last seven overall games, while allowing four or more goals in each of those defeats. The team fell to Detroit in its last outing, a 6-5 overtime loss on Saturday night in Detroit. The Blue Jackets gave up an early first-period two-goal lead, but was lucky enough to have Rick Nash send the game into the extra session with a goal at 18:56 in regulation.
Who’s Hot: Vincent Lecavalier is riding a four-game point streak with a goal and three assists in that span, while defenseman Victor Hedman has recorded an assist in three straight games. Columbus’ Rick Nash comes in with points in four straight games, including three in his last game Saturday versus Detroit, and Fedor Tyutin also has a four-game point streak going for the Blue Jackets.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mike Smith (minor knee injury, day-to-day, placed on Injured Reserve). BLUE JACKETS – Ethan Moreau (ribs, placed on Injured Reserve).
Notable Quotable: “As a team, we want more. And right now, we're faced with a little adversity. And we deserve the results we're getting right now. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. You can't feel sorry for yourself. It's not a forgiving league. Every game is a tough game. We've just got to straighten it out, get it back on track. It's been there at times here and there but not enough to get on a streak.” – Martin St. Louis, commenting on what the Lightning need to do to get back on the winning track
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