Lightning (9-12-1, 19 Points) at Devils (10-7-5, 25 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
The Bolts and Devils face off in the second of three meetings on the year. The two teams last met back on February 7 in New Jersey, where the Devils earned a 4-2 win. The clubs wrap up the season set on March 29 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Both clubs are coming off losses in the first half of back-to-back sets, having each played last night with the Lightning in Pittsburgh and the Devils in Toronto. The teams are also struggling as of late, as both Tampa Bay and New Jersey enter tonight’s game on losing streaks of five games each, looking to turn their respective skids around to get back on the winning track.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will conclude a four-game road trip tonight in New Jersey, still looking for its first win on the swing away from home before returning to Tampa Bay immediately following tonight’s game. The team’s woes continued last night in Pittsburgh, as the Lightning surrendered a lead for the second consecutive game, only to fall yet again, this time 4-3 to the Penguins. Steven Stamkos scored twice, and Tom Pyatt had a goal, but the underlying storyline proved to be the loss of Mathieu Garon, who started the game but left early after apparently sustaining an undisclosed injury. Anders Lindback entered the game in relief of Garon and made 16 saves, but allowed two third-period goals that sparked the Penguins comeback ultimately leading to the Bolts’ fifth consecutive defeat and their 12th in the past 15 games.
DEVILS – New Jersey returns home tonight to host the Lightning in the first contest of a two-game homestand. The Devils dropped their fifth straight game Monday night, falling 4-2 in Toronto to the Maple Leafs. Of those five losses, however, four of them came on the road. Marek Zidlicky had both goals for New Jersey last night, but a third-period outburst propelled the Maple Leafs to victory, as Jay McClement, Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel each had goals for Toronto within the first half of the final period. Johan Hedberg made 19 saves in the absence of the injured Martin Brodeur.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos scored twice on Monday night and owns the league’s longest active point streak at 10 games. Martin St. Louis had two assists against the Penguins and now has 11 points in as many games. New Jersey’s Ryan Carter has points in back-to-back games, while Alex Ponikarovsky has three points in his past five games.
“The guys know what we’re asking them and they want to do it. We’re playing hard, we’re playing good, but we sabotage ourselves with turnovers. There is no excuse for it though. Right now it’s important that we come down and break those habits of being impatient.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, following Monday’s 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh
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