Lightning - Oilers Preview
It’s the first and only meeting between the cross-conference rivals. Last season, a late rally by the Bolts fell just short in a shootout loss to the Oilers, 4-3, in the only matchup of the year at Rexall Place.
The Big Story:
While the chances of making the playoffs for both clubs seem slim, the Lightning and Oilers still have a lot to play for. Tampa Bay looks to snap a three-game skid and build momentum to finish the season strong heading into the final weeks, while Edmonton is looking to build on a recent victory and collect its fourth win in five games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will play in the second-to-last contest of its season-long, seven-game road trip. With eight regulars out of the lineup on Monday, Tampa Bay fell 7-3 to the Buffalo Sabres in what was the team’s sixth loss in seven games. Much like earning victories, having its mainstay players in the lineup has been equally hard to come by. The team was without forwards Nate Thompson
, Adam Hall
and Ryan Shannon
for its most recent outing, and remains without several others. Still, with 10 games remaining, head coach Guy Boucher is encouraging his players to stay positive and continue fighting until the very end. If they are to do that, the Bolts will have to score more goals, as the team has scored no more than three times in each of their past three games since exploding for six goals in a 6-1 win against Boston on Mar. 13. It will also have to rely on goaltender Dwayne Roloson
, at least for Thursday’s game, as Dustin Tokarski
was sent down to Norfolk of the AHL on Tuesday to help the Lightning’s top affiliate in Norfolk make a run deep into the playoffs. Backing up Roloson will be Sebastien Caron
, who the Lightning signed out of Europe for the remainder of the season.
OILERS – Edmonton visits the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the first and only time this season as it plays in the second match of its current four-game road trip. The Oilers might be next to last in the overall 30-team league standings, but have picked up their game as of late. Edmonton has won three of the past four, including a tough road win to kick off the swing away from home on Tuesday at Nashville. Ales Hemsky scored his first career hat trick and added an assist, while Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Jones and Sam Gagner also tallied for the Oilers. The performance was just as good at the other end of the ice as well, as Devan Dubnyk stopped all but three of 41 shots faced to earn the victory.
Lightning forward Ryan Malone
comes in with points in eight of his past 10 games following a multi-point effort on Monday. For the Oilers, Ales Hemsky has four goals and five points in his past two contests and Jeff Petry has recorded four points in his past three games.
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), Adam Hall
(upper body, day-to-day), Ryan Shannon
(upper body, out for season) and Nate Thompson
(upper body, day-to-day).
OILERS – Ben Eager (back, day-to-day).
“Everything matters. Everything we do today matters for tomorrow, it matters for next year, it matters for the team, it matters for the organization and it matters for the fans. I really truly believe that you can gain something every day. I understand things have been tough for us, but we have to maintain a very high standard of not just play, but character, work ethic and attitude. It’s not about winning right now. It’s about giving every single ounce of energy and being the best we can be for the fans so it’s worth their money.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on what the message is to his team for the remaining 10 games of the regular season
Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was in net for the Lightning when the team won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against Calgary, earning the franchise its first and only championship. Khabibulin still today holds a number of both regular season and playoff team records.