Lightning (29-15-5, 63 Points) vs. Thrashers (23-18-9, 55 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-4-0); Atlanta (3-4-3)
Season Series: Tampa Bay looks to sweep the season series tonight in the finale of six meetings on the season between the two clubs. Tampa Bay and Atlanta met just three days ago, with the Lightning earning their fifth straight victory of 2010-11 and the third straight in extra time over Atlanta with a 3-2 victory in the shootout.
The Big Story: The Lightning are riding a three-game win streak heading into the first of 12 games on the team’s NHL-record long home stand which kicks off tonight. Tampa Bay has won 10 straight games over the Thrashers and looks to make it 11 this evening, which would also extend their lead at the top of the Southeast Division over Washington and gain separation in what has otherwise been a neck-and-neck race ever since Tampa Bay took over on Dec. 23.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay opens up its NHL-record 12-game home stand tonight against the Thrashers after earning two consecutive road victories in each of its last two games. Each of the team’s last three games have gone to a shootout, in which Tampa Bay has won five in a row after dropping the first two of the season in the tiebreaker. Dominic Moore has been the hero in each of the last two, scoring the game-winning goal Thursday in Atlanta, as well as Friday in Florida. The team returns home tonight where it has been spectacular all year, posting a 14-4-2 record, which is the best on home ice in the NHL.
THRASHERS – Atlanta visits Tampa Bay for the third and final time this season and for a brief one-game stand before returning home to play three straight. The Thrashers are playing in the second half of a back-to-back set tonight after falling 3-2 to the Rangers in a shootout last night. Despite not trailing for the last 130 minutes in its last two games combined, Atlanta doesn’t have much to show for it except two consecutive shootout losses. New York, playing without half a dozen of their regular starters due to injury, got a goal from Brian Boyle late in the game to force overtime after Nik Antropov and Anthony Stewart scored in regulation for the Thrashers. The Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello extended his perfect shootout streak to net the game-winner, his third in three tries this season.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos has six goals and three assists amidst a five-game point streak and Steve Downie has points in five of his last seven games, including two straight. Atlanta’s Nik Antropov has points in each of the last four games and Andrew Ladd has points in eight of his last nine games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – None. THRASHERS – Chris Mason (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Jim Slater (concussion) and Freddy Modin (undisclosed, placed on Injured Reserve).
Notable Quotable: “I don't want anyone to take for granted that because we’re at home we’re set up nicely here, that this is going to be an easy month just because we’re playing at home. Guy is not afraid to shake things up. And I suspect over the course of the month, he’ll try to do different things to make sure the guys don't get in a rut.” – General Manager Steve Yzerman, addressing the team’s 12-game home stand which kicks off tonight against the Thrashers
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