Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh face off in the second of four total meetings on the year. The teams most recently met for the first time in 2011-12 back on Nov. 17 when the Lightning earned a 4-1 victory at home.
Pittsburgh ended a six-game losing streak in its last game, and now will try to prevent Tampa Bay from doing the same. The Bolts are still looking for their first win of the New Year and face pretty good odds of that happening on Sunday, as the Lightning have won four straight matchups over the Penguins, including playoffs.
LIGHTNING – After returning home from a brief one-game stint in Washington, the Bolts open up a two-game home stand Sunday with the first of the two matchups coming versus the Penguins. The Lightning come in looking to break a six-game losing streak, having last earned a win back on New Year’s Eve against division-rival Carolina. The team’s struggles continued on Friday against the Capitals, although not without a fight. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier scored 3:13 apart in the final minutes of the third period to bring the Lightning to within a goal, not once, but twice, and Tom Pyatt also had a goal in the game. Tampa Bay’s three goals, however, were matched by Capitals forward Troy Brouwer, whose first career hat trick included an empty-net tally with one minute left in regulation that stood up as the game-winner.
PENGUINS - Pittsburgh visits the Tampa Bay Times Forum in its last game before returning home to take on the Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Penguins dropped out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture amidst a six-game losing streak, but took the first step to getting right back into the discussion following their 4-1 victory over Florida on Friday night. A pair of goals from Steve Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin put Pittsburgh out to a 2-0 lead heading into the final period before the teams exchanged goals to bring the Panthers to within one. That would be as close as Florida would get though, as James Neal sealed the win with an additional tally late in the game that was supported by a 25-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.
For the Lightning, Steven Stamkos is riding a three-game point streak with a pair of goals and as many assists in that span, while Teddy Purcell has two points in his past two games. Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin has three goals in his past four games.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Ryan Shannon (lower body, out 2-4 weeks, placed on Injured Reserve), Victor Hedman (concussion, out indefinitely), Adam Hall (upper body, out 8 weeks), JT Wyman (upper body, day-to-day) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body, day-to-day).
PENGUINS – Sidney Crosby (concussion, out indefinitely), Jordan Staal (knee, out 4-6 weeks), Kris Letang (concussion, out indefinitely) and Simon Despres (lower body, day-to-day).
“Our players played hard. We can’t ask for anything more from our players. We played well enough to win, but what’s tough is that we aren’t getting the breaks.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, following his team’s last game, a 4-3 loss to Washington
The Lightning's Ryan Malone became the first Pittsburgh native to ever play for the Penguins, during the 2003-04 season. Malone had 87 goals and 82 assists in 299 regular-season games with the Penguins, and six goals and 25 assists in 25 playoff games with Pittsburgh. Greg Malone, Ryan's father, who is currently a Lightning scout, played for Pittsburgh from 1976-83. Ryan and Greg Malone are one of two father/son combinations in NHL history to tally hat tricks for the same NHL team, with the other combination being Ken Hodge Sr. and Ken Hodge Jr. with Boston. The Lightning and Penguins are the only NHL teams to use the first-overall draft pick to select a player from the QMJHL since 1994: Vincent Lecavalier (1998, Rimouski), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003, Rimouski) and Sidney Crosby (2005, Rimouski)..
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