Lightning (32-16-5, 69 Points) vs. Blues (23-20-7, 53 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (7-3-0); St. Louis (3-6-1)
Season Series: This is the first, and the only, meeting of the season between the teams. The clubs last met over a year ago on Dec. 18 in St. Louis, where the Lightning won a wild high-scoring affair by a score of 6-3, a game in which Vincent Lecavalier recorded his 700th career point.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay is still riding high after dropping their first game since Jan. 15 on Friday against the division-rival Capitals. The Lightning have won six of the last seven and remain at the top of the Southeast Division standings with 69 points, three ahead of the Capitals and just four points out of first in the Eastern Conference.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher, nor the players for that matter, were pleased after falling 5-2 to the Capitals on Friday night. A single loss, however, shouldn’t overshadow what the Lightning have accomplished to begin their 12-game home stand. The Bolts have outscored their opponents 15-6 through the first four games, a stretch during which they’ve posted a 3-1-0 record with two shutouts. Dwayne Roloson has moved into the number one starting role, winning five of his last six decisions, while his play has prompted general manager to reassign goaltender Mike Smith to Norfolk on Saturday. Although the Lightning’s streak of killing off 24 consecutive penalties came to an end on Friday against the Capitals, Tampa Bay still tops the league in special teams at home. Entering play yesterday, the Lightning were the only team in the NHL to rank in the top five of both home power play and home penalty kill categories.
BLUES – After playing two of the last three games on the road, the Blues kick off a two-game road swing tonight that begins against the Lightning this evening and continues in Florida Tuesday night. St. Louis snapped a four-game losing streak in its most recent contest Friday with a 5-3 win over Edmonton. In each of those previous four losses, however, the Blues had given up four or more goals in each of those contests. That might not bode well for St. Louis, as it comes into Tampa Bay having allowed 83 road goals this season, which ranks 24th out of 30 NHL teams. Pair that with the Lightning ranked towards the top of the league rankings with 82 goals scored at home, and the Blues could be in for what would be their fourth straight road loss.
Who’s Hot: Teddy Purcell has been unstoppable for the Lightning recently. The Tampa Bay wing has four goals and nine points amidst a four-game point streak. Simon Gagne has been good, too, for the Lightning. He has six goals and 10 points in as many games and also comes in with points in four straight. Defenseman Brett Clark is riding a three-game point streak with as many in that span. The Blues’ Brad Boyes has totaled eight points while riding a five-game point streak and Jay McClement has four points in his last three games for St. Louis.
LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (lower body, day-to-day). BLUES – Carlo Colaiacovo (eye injury), Dave Scatchard (undisclosed) and David Perron (undisclosed).
Notable Quotable: “For us, every game is important. I think every game is a must win. You go out there and play it like a Game 7.” – Dwayne Roloson, on the urgency of winning games down the stretch leading into April
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