Lightning (31-15-5, 67 Points) vs. Flyers (33-12-5, 71 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (7-3-0); Philadelphia (8-2-0)
Season Series: The Lightning are looking to stay unbeaten against the Flyers this year as the two teams face off in the third of four meetings on the seasons. Tampa Bay has taken both matchups so far, each on the road. The Lightning earned a 3-2 win on Oct. 14 and pulled out another victory in a thrilling 8-7 contest in the most recent meeting on Nov. 18.
The Big Story: The Lightning are riding a five-game winning streak, but with six days off due to the All-Star break, it will be interesting to see how the Bolts come back to continue their record-long 12-game home stand. Tampa Bay has collected consecutive victories to start the home stretch and look to keep it going, but it won’t be an easy task, as tonight’s game between the Lightning and Flyers matches the top two teams in the Eastern Conference against each other in a battle of league heavyweights.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay continues on its 12-game home stand tonight in the third game of the stretch. The Lightning have opened with a pair of consecutive wins, breezing through Atlanta and Toronto, but now will have to display the relentless mindset often preached by head coach Guy Boucher as the schedule gets considerably tougher beginning with tonight’s game. Tampa Bay will host Washington on Friday and will also wrap up the series finale with the fourth and final meeting with the Flyers Feb. 15 before taking on Detroit two days later. The long home stretch, however, could bode well for the Bolts, who hold the NHL’s best home record at 16-4-2 and have won 10 of the last 12 games at the St. Pete Times Forum.
FLYERS – Philadelphia will play its next two consecutive road games in Tampa Bay, beginning tonight. Following this evening’s contest, the Flyers head back home for four straight before returning to the Times Forum to conclude a four-game season series. The Flyers have been the NHL’s hottest team in 2011, having won 10 of the first 12 games since the turn of the calendar year. With 71 points through 50 games, Philadelphia is tied with Vancouver for the league’s highest point total and is knotted with the New York Rangers for the NHL lead in road wins with 17. The last time they led the Presidents’ Trophy race after 50 games was 1986-87, the season the Flyers dropped a seven-game series to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos had a six-game point streak snapped in his last game, but nonetheless has seven goals and 10 points in his last seven games. Simon Gagne has three goals in his last two contests and six goals in his last eight games overall, while Teddy Purcell has recorded a goal and four assists in his last two games. Dwayne Roloson is also 4-0-0 with a 1.20 GAA and a .953 SV% in his last four games. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux is riding a seven-game point streak with three goals and 11 points in that span.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (lower body, day-to-day); FLYERS – James van Riemsdyk (lower body, day-to-day).
Notable Quotable: “It’s good for the team. It’s obviously good for Roloson. I just shook both goaltenders’ [Roloson and Ellis] hands and told them they’re a big part of why we’re having success, so, yes, you’re right, it feels good but I want to make sure we also focus on that Ellis has given us a tremendous game the last game he played. So, we’re very happy with what's going on with the goaltenders.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher, commenting on the recent success of his goaltenders
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