Lightning (39-22-11, 89 Points) vs. Islanders (28-33-12, 68 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (2-4-4); New York (5-1-4)
Season Series: The Bolts and Isles conclude the season series tonight with the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs at the St. Pete Time Forum. Tampa Bay has points in each of the first three meetings on the year, earning its only win against New York on Nov. 17 that came between a pair of overtime losses on Oct. 21 and Dec. 22.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has earned points consistently as of late, even if it hasn’t been doing it with wins. Despite coming in with just two wins in their last seven games, the Lightning have points in four straight and in six of those seven contests, with the only exception coming in a 2-1 regulation loss to Ottawa on Mar. 11. With 89 points, the Bolts still sit comfortably in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings as they seek their 40th win of the season tonight, which would mark just the fourth time in reaching that total in franchise history.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay opens up with the first of two home games this week only to wrap up a home-and-home series with division-rival Carolina on Saturday night in Raleigh. The Bolts are coming off a four-game road swing in which it picked up points in each of the four games on the trip, marking the first time since it went 3-0-1 on a four-game swing in early November of 2006. Tampa Bay picked up the fifth and final point out of a possible eight on the trip Saturday night in Ottawa in a 3-2 overtime loss. The Lightning appeared to be heading towards its 40th victory and into a fourth-place tie with the Penguins in the East until the Senators’ Ryan Shannon scored on a shorthanded breakaway and turned the tide with seven and a half minutes remaining. Nick Foligno tied the contest under four minutes later and Jason Spezza won it for Ottawa in the extra period, despite being down a pair of goals to open the first 50 minutes, which came from Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier and Dana Tyrell.
ISLANDERS – New York will conclude a five-game road trip tonight in Tampa Bay, on which it has picked up points in three of its four games so far on the trip. The Islanders have enjoyed a successful month of March after the first few months of the season appeared to have the team in for a long run through the beginning of the April. New York has points in nine of its last 10 games played since a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals on Mar. 1, including its most recent outing on Saturday in a 4-3 win in a shootout against the Panthers. The Islanders came from behind in the third period after being down 2-1 heading into the final frame, getting a pair of goals from P.A. Parenteau and Micheal Healey. Despite allowing a late a tying-goal to Florida’s Stephen Weiss in the third, Rick DiPietro made 29 saves to force extra time, in which Frans Nielsen won the game for the Islanders in the tiebreaker.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis has 10 points in his last seven games after having a six-game points streak snapped Saturday in Ottawa. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier has also been one of the club’s best players recently, as he comes in with 11 goals and 17 points in his last 18 games played. New York’s Michael Grabner has two goals and pair assists for four points in two games, and Frans Nielsen also has three points in his last pair of games for the Islanders.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (mid body, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Steve Downie (lower body, day-to-day), Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely) and Simon Gagne (upper body, day-to-day). ISLANDERS – Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Doug Weight (back), Kevin Poulin (knee) and Trent Hunter (knee).
Notable Quotable: “You get treated with respect and how you’re supposed to be treated, and you’re going to go on the ice every night and compete and play for the people who run the organization and own the team. It’s fair to say the ownership we had before wasn’t close to that. Bringing the people we have now helped a player like Vinny play up to his potential.” – Mike Smith, on the reason for the rejuvenation of captain Vincent Lecavalier
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