Lightning (34-17-6, 74 Points) vs. Red Wings (34-16-6, 74 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (7-2-1); Detroit (6-4-0)
Season Series: The Lightning and Red Wings meet for the first and only time this season at the St. Pete Times Forum. Detroit pulled out a shutout in the only matchup between the teams last season, winning 3-0, and have won the last four straight meetings versus Tampa Bay, which is seeking its first victory against the Red Wings since the 2002-03 season.
The Big Story: Much has been made about the Red Wings coming to town to face one of their own all-time greats in Steve Yzerman for the very first time, but the Lightning general manager says he is more focused on the game itself and is curious to see how both teams match up against each other. Tampa Bay and Detroit have nearly identical records and both come in holding the second spot in their respective conference standings.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay has five wins on its 12-game home stand, which is more than halfway over and features only four more games including tonight. General Manager Steve Yzerman has stressed all week that he does not want emotions to get in the way of the more important task at hand, which is earning two points against a tough Red Wings team tonight. The Lightning are looking to rebound after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Flyers Tuesday, although the team’s hard effort and relentless style prompted a comeback that left them without disappointment at the conclusion of the game despite the unfavorable result. Head Coach Guy Boucher and Steven Stamkos both expressed how proud they were at the effort, as the Bolts tied the game on consecutive goals by Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell to send the contest to overtime. Dwayne Roloson stopped 26 shots, but gave up the game-winning goal in the tiebreaker to Kimmo Timonen in the seventh round.
RED WINGS – Detroit kicks off a three-game road trip tonight in Tampa Bay, which is also the first in a back-to-back set for the Wings, who will travel to Sunrise immediately following tonight’s game to take on the Panthers tomorrow night. The Red Wings are coming off two consecutive victories earned over a home and home series against the Bruins and come into tonight with four days off, having played their last game on Feb. 13 against Boston in a 4-2 win. Detroit has won three of the last four overall, as well as three of the last four on the road as well.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier is riding a four-game goal scoring streak for the first time since Jan. 30 to Feb. 6, 2007, with five in his current span. Martin St. Louis also has assists in four straight contests, recording five during that stretch. Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg has five points in his last three games, while Todd Bertuzzi has collected four goals in his last two games. Jiri Hudler has also added three assists and four points in his last two as well.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (mid body, out indefinitely), Mike Lundin (mid body, out indefinitely) and Nate Thompson (upper body, day-to-day). RED WINGS – Mike Modano (wrist, out indefinitely), Brad Stuart (jaw), Chris Osgood (groin) and Valtteri Filppula (lower body, day-to-day).
Notable Quotable: “You know I don’t think that we should make it any bigger of a deal than necessary about the game. I’m not the coach behind the bench and I’m obviously not a player playing the game. For us I look at it as, for one we are trying to win every game that we can, and two, we are playing against one of the best teams in the league and it’s a good test to see how we hold up against them.” – Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, on how he is approaching his first game against his former team
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