Lightning (43-24-11, 97 Points) at Blackhawks (42-27-8, 92 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-2-3); Chicago (5-3-2)
Season Series: The Lightning and Blackhawks face off in the second of two meetings on the year tonight in Chicago. The clubs most recently met at the St. Pete Times Forum back on Mar. 9, where the Lightning earned a 4-3 victory in the shootout.
The Big Story: The Lightning have been rolling lately, as Tampa Bay captured its fourth consecutive win on Saturday afternoon. Prior to the recent four-game stretch, the Lightning endured a period in which it had just two wins in 12 games. With 97 points, the Bolts are creeping up on Pittsburgh and challenging the Penguins for home ice advantage in a potential first-round matchup. Tampa Bay’s point total also has the club on the verge of closing in on the 100-point plateau for just the second time in franchise history.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays the rubber match of a three-game road set tonight, and also the latter half of a back-to-back set after defeating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday afternoon. The Lightning found themselves down early after Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard opened the game’s scoring, but Tampa Bay countered with three consecutive goals from Ryan Malone, Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim to get the win. Dwayne Roloson was sensational in net, making 29 saves. Martin St. Louis also had an assist to extend his points streak to five games, collecting four goals and as many helpers in that span.
BLACKHAWKS – Beginning with tonight’s game against the Bolts, the Blackhawks will alternate each of their last five remaining games at home and on the road. The Blackhawks have exchanged wins and losses in each of the team’s past five contests, with the most recent coming in a 4-3 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook gave Chicago a two-goal lead in the first period, but Columbus responded with a pair of their own to send a tied game into the final period. The clubs exchanged a goal each in the third, and following a scoreless extra session, before Viktor Stalberg won the game in the tiebreaker. The victory proved to be crucial for Chicago, who stayed alive in the playoff hunt by earning its 92nd point, good for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference standings.
Who’s Hot: Vincent Lecavalier had a six-game points streak snapped Saturday, but has points in all but one of his last seven games with a pair of goals and eight points in that span, while Martin St. Louis has a goal in three of four and points in 11 of the last 13 games, including a current five-game points streak. Dominic Moore also has four goals in his last six for the Bolts. Chicago’s Duncan Keith has a goal and four assists in his past six games and Brent Seabrook has three goals and an assist in his last five. Marian Hossa also has six points in his last six games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely); BLACKHAWKS – Jordan Hendry (knee surgery, out for the season), Dave Bolland (upper body, day-to-day) and Patrick Sharp.
Notable Quotable: “These last five games have to be about us getting better, we can’t all of a sudden think we’ve done it. We haven't done anything. We want the Stanley Cup, so whether that’s this year or next year or whenever, we have to keep working toward that. Making the playoffs showed everybody that we can, including ourselves, but what do we need to do now to win one? And (Thursday) was a great example of a lot of things that we did well, but we still need to grow in maturity.” – Guy Boucher, on the mindset of his team going down the final stretch of the regular season
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