Season Series: The Bolts and Senators face off for the second of four total meetings on the year. The clubs opened up the season set one month ago to the day, back on Dec. 5, as Ottawa earned a 4-2 victory behind two goals from Zack Smith. The teams will conclude the 2011-12 series with a pair of games in Tampa Bay on Feb. 14 and Mar. 6, respectively.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has won five of its past eight games and looks to rebound from a defeat on Tuesday at Toronto that snapped the Bolts’ three-game winning streak. Ottawa, meanwhile, looks to extend its own stretch of consecutive victories to four games as it comes in to Thursday’s game with wins in three straight, each of which have come by just a single goal in either overtime or the shootout.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in the second match of its three-game road trip through Canada, which concludes Saturday in Montreal. The Bolts had their three-game win streak snapped Tuesday against Toronto, despite climbing back from a pair of one-goal deficits in the second period. Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 27th goal of the season to tie the game at two and Pavel Kubina also had a goal to draw the Lightning even a second time, but four consecutive unanswered goals by Toronto, including two on the power play, capped off the victory. Mathieu Garon made 17 stops on 21 shots, but was relieved by Dwayne Roloson towards the end of the second period. Roloson made 18 saves in his first action since Dec. 21. Vincent Lecavalier also had a goal for the Lightning, while Martin St. Louis had an assist to extend his point streak to six games since returning from injury.
SENATORS – Ottawa plays in the finale of a brief two-game home stand as it hosts the Lightning for the second and final time of the regular season at Scotiabank Place. The home locale has provided the Senators with good fortune as of late, as Ottawa has collected victories in five of its past six games within the friendly confines of its own arena. The setting seemed to work in the team’s favor again on Monday, as it defeated the Devils 3-2 in overtime for its third straight win. Jason Spezza and Erik Condra each had goals in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit, and Daniel Alfredsson won it for the Senators with his 401st career goal exactly four minutes into the extra session. Craig Anderson allowed a pair of tallies to New Jersey during the middle frame, but settled in to hold the Devils scoreless in the third en route to completing a 27-save performance.
Who’s Hot: Lightning forward Martin St. Louis has points in six straight games since returning from injury on Dec. 21, while Steven Stamkos has picked up a total of seven goals in his past four games. Steve Downie also has recorded two goals and five assists in his past four games. For Ottawa, Daniel Alfredsson has two goals and an assist in his past four games and Zack Smith has points in three of his past five contests. Erik Condra also has three points in his past two games for the Senators.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Ryan Shannon (lower body, out 2-4 weeks), Victor Hedman (concussion, out indefinitely) and Ryan Malone (lower body, day-to-day). SENATORS – Sergei Gonchar (head), Peter Regin (shoulder) and Brad Winchester (concussion).
Notable Quotable: “He’s a jet out there. I find that he's made a difference just as much when he didn't have the puck as when he's had the puck. And that's a mark of somebody who is becoming more of a winner than a star.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, commenting on the impressive play of star center Steven Stamkos
Connections: Zenon Konopka is in his first year with Ottawa after spending the 2010-11 season with the New York Islanders. Konopka played 81 games with the Bolts during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, leading the league with 265 penalty minutes in 2009-10 while with Tampa Bay.Ottawa's Filip Kuba had 21 goals 47 assists over 156 games with the Lightning in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Ryan Shannon is in his first season with the Lightning, after accumulating 24 goals and 39 assists in 180 games with the Senators over the past three seasons.
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