Season Series: It’s the first of two meetings on the year between the clubs. Following Saturday’s tilt at the Scottrade Center, the Lightning will play host to the Blues at the St. Pete Times Forum on Mar. 17. Last season, Vincent Lecavalier’s game-winner in overtime earned the Bolts a 4-3 victory over the Blues in the only matchup of the season.
The Big Story: The Lightning come in riding a three-game win streak and have won seven of their past nine games overall. The most recent win came at home on Wednesday in a 2-1 overtime thriller over the Flyers which vaulted Tampa Bay into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division with the Washington Capitals, who have two games in hand. The Bolts have not made it easy. Each of those past three victories have all come in either overtime or a shootout after the Lightning rallied back from being down by at least one goal.
LIGHTNING – After alternating six consecutive games at home and on the road, Tampa Bay kicks off a two-game road swing that begins in St. Louis and ends in Winnipeg. The stretch marks the first time the Lightning will play consecutive games away from home since Oct. 25-27. In winning seven of their past nine games, the Bolts have shown their resiliency as of late, which was again on display in the team’s third straight win Wednesday night in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Flyers. Tampa Bay came back from at least a one-goal deficit for the third consecutive match, as Marc-Andre Bergeron tied the game with just over 12 minutes to play in regulation after Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell opened the scoring. Rookie forward Brett Connolly notched the overtime winner to give Tampa Bay the win, in which it allowed just 15 shots to the opponent which were the fewest it has given up in a single game all season.
BLUES – St. Louis hosts Tampa Bay in the rubber match of the team’s five-game home stand. After winning three straight, the Blues have since dropped four of their past six games, including Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto. The Blues, despite falling behind by two goals early on, rallied back to tie the game on consecutive goals by Patrik Berglund and Jason Arnott. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots, but couldn’t solve Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who notched the winning goal in the tiebreaker.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos comes in riding a three-game point streak for the Bolts with four goals and six points in that span. Brett Connolly’s goal on Wednesday night against Philadelphia was his third in four games, while Vincent Lecavalier comes in with points in four of his past five games. For the Blues, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has three points in two games, while Carlo Colaiacovo and Chris Stewart each have a pair of points in as many games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Victor Hedman (upper body, day-to-day) and Ryan Malone (upper body, day-to-day). BLUES – David Perron (post concussion syndrome), Kent Huskins (ankle), Andy McDonald (concussion) and BJ Crombeen (shoulder).
Notable Quotable: “There's a lot of character in this room. We have guys that never quit and there are a lot of veterans in here who have been here before and who are great leaders.” – Brett Connolly, on how his team continues to rally back from being down in order to win three straight games.
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