Blues - Lightning Preview
The Lightning and Blues meet for the second and final time this season. St. Louis took the only other matchup between the teams back in November when it earned a 3-0 shutout over Tampa Bay on home ice.
Following a 6-1 rout of the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins on Tuesday, the Lightning fell 3-1 to Toronto in the team’s last outing, but despite the defeat, remain in contention for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. The Blues, meanwhile, are flirting with recording 100 points in a season for the first time since 2000-01 and for just the fifth time in franchise history as they close in on clinching just the team's second playoff berth since the lockout.
– Tampa Bay plays in the fourth contest of its season-long seven-game home stand. The Bolts fell in their last outing on Thursday, losing 3-1 to the Maple Leafs that brought the team’s record on the current swing at home to 1-2-0 through the first three games. Martin St. Louis
scored the Lightning’s lone goal in the waning seconds of the final period to avoid a shutout, and Dustin Tokarski
stopped seven of 10 shots on the night before being pulled in favor of Dwayne Roloson
. Tampa Bay seemed as if it was back well into the playoff picture as recently as two weeks ago despite a season chock full of injuries and a trio of trades sending veteran players away before the Feb. 27 league deadline. But the team enters Saturday’s game with losses in four of the past five and remains on the outside looking in with 12 games left to play in the regular season.
– St. Louis will face the Lightning in the team’s fourth match on its current seven-game stretch away from home. After winning the first contest of the road trip on Sunday at Columbus, the Blues dropped each of the next two and now look to avoid a three-game losing streak on Saturday as they visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum. While St. Louis is the league’s top team at home, posting a 29-4-4 record at the Scottrade Center, its struggles on the road were well documented until recently, as the club has improved as of late in other team’s home arenas. They are 8-4-1 away from home since a 3-1 loss in Nashville on Feb. 4, but will face three Western Conference teams who are all fighting for playoff spots to conclude its current road trip before returning home towards the end of the month.
Lightning forward Ryan Malone
has points in seven of his past eight games, recording three goals and seven points in that span, while Teddy Purcell
has registered seven goals and 28 points in his past 19 games. Steven Stamkos
also continues to get attention in Tampa Bay, as the NHL’s leading scorer has hit the 50-goal mark for the second time in three seasons. For the Blues, center Andy McDonald has nine points in his past seven games and 17 points in his past 18 outings since returning from injury.
LIGHTNING - Mattias Ohlund
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, out for season), Vincent Lecavalier
(non-displaced hand fracture, out indefinitely), Mathieu Garon
(torn groin muscle, out 3-4 weeks), Bruno Gervais
(upper body, day-to-day) and Nate Thompson
(upper body, day-to-day). BLUES – Alex Steen (concussion), Matt D’Agostini (concussion) and Kris Russell (concussion).
“There have been many circumstances that have been tough to deal with. But I have the utmost respect in the world for our players, and their resiliency, for their commitment and for not quitting and fighting. It’s still there and it’s very impressive. Our barn is full almost every night, and it hadn’t been like that for a long time, so I think that shows how much our fans appreciate how hard these guys work.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, praising his team for continuing to fight through adversity
Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer
is a former Blues captain, holding that role up until his trade to the Lightning on Feb. 18, 2011 in exchange for Brock Beukeboom and a 2011 third-round pick. Brewer totaled 30 goals and 65 assists in 332 games with the Blues.