It’s the first and only matchup of the season between the cross-conference clubs. Last season Tampa Bay took both meetings on Oct. 30 and Feb. 23, respectively, by a combined score of 11-3, with the latter victory powered by Teddy Purcell’s first career hat trick.
After dropping a season-high seven straight games, the Lightning have now won two in a row and look to keep the streak going against the Coyotes. In order to do so, they’ll have to get the best of a familiar face, as former Bolts goaltender Mike Smith is expected to be in net for Phoenix, as he faces his one-time club for the first time since joining the Coyotes in the offseason.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay takes on Phoenix to conclude a back-to-back set on the road Saturday, which kicked off just 24 hours earlier with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Teddy Purcell scored twice to record his first multi-goal game of the season and Mathieu Garon made 27 saves as the Lightning won consecutive games for the first time since before the New Year. Tampa Bay surrendered an early one-goal lead to the Stars, but got it right back at 3:36 of the final period when Purcell beat Kari Lehtonen with his second of the night and 11th of the season. The victory snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Lightning, which also got a pair of assists from Martin St. Louis.
COYOTES – Phoenix plays in the second match of its current six-game home stand. The Coyotes have collected points in four straight games played at Jobing.com Arena, and have won two of the past three there, with the exception coming in its most recent game on Thursday against Detroit. Raffi Torres scored to give Phoenix a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, and Gilbert Brule tied the game at two after the Coyotes surrendered the early one-goal lead, sending the contest into extra frames. Despite a 33-save effort from former Bolts net minder Mike Smith, Todd Bertuzzi had the only goal for either side in the shootout to give the Red Wings a 3-2 win and leave Phoenix with just a single point rather than two.
For the Lightning, Martin St. Louis has recorded 16 assists in his past 14 games since returning from injury, while Teddy Purcell has produced multi-point performances in two of his past three outings. Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier is also riding a four-game point streak for Tampa Bay and has points in all but one of his past six contests. Phoenix’s Raffi Torres has points in two straight, recording a goal and an assist in that span, while Coyotes captain Shane Doan has landed on the score sheet in two of the past three games.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Ryan Shannon (lower body, out 2-4 weeks, placed on Injured Reserve), Adam Hall (upper body, out 8 weeks, placed on Injured Reserve), Victor Hedman (concussion, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body, day-to-day), JT Wyman (upper body, day-to-day) and Tom Pyatt (lower body, day-to-day).
COYOTES – Kurt Sauer (post-concussion syndrome, placed on Injured Reserve), Martin Hanzal (upper body, placed on Injured Reserve) and David Schlemko (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve).
“It’s going to be fun. Obviously Smitty was a big part of our team the last couple years and one of my closest friends on the team as well. It was sad to see him go, but that’s the business of hockey. He’s having a tremendous season, but hopefully we can sneak a couple past him when we play them.” – Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, on the excitement of facing former teammate and current Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith
Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith manned the nets for the Lightning for part of the 2007-08 season all the way up until the end of last season before signing with Phoenix as a free agent this past summer. Forward Radim Vrbata also is a former Bolt, appearing in 18 games during the 2008-09 season.
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