Lightning (41-24-11, 93 Points) vs. Penguins (45-24-8, 98 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-3-3); Pittsburgh (7-3-0)
Season Series: The Lightning and Penguins close out the four-game season series tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa Bay has fallen behind two-games-to-one since taking the first meeting back on Oct. 27 after the Penguins took each of the previous two, winning both in their home arena on Nov. 12 and Jan. 5.
The Big Story: Coming off two wins that appear to have the team back on track, Tampa Bay trails Pittsburgh by five points for the fourth playoff spot in the East and looks to close the gap with a win against the Penguins tonight. The Lightning earned their 93rd point of the season Tuesday night, tying the second-highest point total in franchise history and are still seeking their first playoff berth since the 2006-07 campaign – they could clinch tonight with a win over the Penguins – after Carolina, who needed to lose in regulation in its last pair of games, has won two straight.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up a two-game home stand tonight and will play in its second-to-last home game of the regular season. The Bolts will conclude the home portion in the final regular season game at the St. Pete Times Forum on Apr. 8 against Florida. After snapping a four-game winless streak, the Lightning have won two straight, which according to a number of players on the team, has admittedly boosted their confidence heading into the final six games of the regular season. Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore each had two goals on Tuesday night in a 5-2 win over Ottawa, and Steven Stamkos scored his first goal since Mar. 12 in a game that now has the team back on track. Head coach Guy Boucher went on to say following the win that he believes his team is playing back to how it was early in the season when it had success, which he attributes as the reason for their current position in the standings.
PENGUINS – Pittsburgh kicks off a two-game road set through the state of Florida tonight, as it will travel to Sunrise following tonight’s game to prepare for a bout with the Panthers on Saturday. Pittsburgh had its four-game win streak – a stretch in which each victory came in a shootout – snapped in its most recent game, losing 5-2 on Tuesday to Philadelphia. Things were even through the first 20 minutes, but the Penguins squandered a one-goal lead in the second period, as well as ultimately the chance to tie their cross-state rivals in the standings with 100 points each. With Pittsburgh already down by a goal at the second intermission, the Flyers went on to add two more in the third to seal the win against the Penguins, who had won eight of 10 games prior to the defeat.
Who’s Hot: Martin St. Louis has picked up two points in all but two of his last eight games for the Lightning. Vincent Lecavalier is riding a five-game point streak and also has four goals and 10 points in his last eight, while Simon Gagne has six goals and 12 points in his past seven games for the Bolts. Pittsburgh’s Alex Kovalev is riding a two-game point streak with a goal and an assist in those two games and Tyler Kennedy has points in three of the last five games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely). PENGUINS – Sidney Crosby (concussion), Nick Johnson (upper body), Dustin Jeffrey (knee), Brent Johnson (upper body), Mark Letestu (upper body), Eric Tangradi (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee).
Notable Quotable: “We’re back to our mentality and I think we’re back to building on what we’ve done all season long, which is deserving victories and deserving results. Little by little we’re building it back up. It’s no secret it's all about work and effort and paying the price.” – Dominic Moore, on the team’s recent play
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