Lightning (11-14-1, 23 Points) vs. Islanders (11-12-3, 25 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
Season Series: Tonight's matchup is the second of three meetings between the two clubs, and the lone game at the Times Forum. The Lightning dropped the first meeting, 4-3, on January 21 on Long Island despite storming back from a four-goal deficit with a furious comeback attempt marked by three third period tallies. The teams will wrap up the season series on April 6 at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Big Story: The Lightning got back on the winning track on Tuesday night powered by Steven Stamkos' league-leading 20th goal of the season. The tally was the 199th of Stamkos' career, as he now needs just one more to become the fourth youngest player in NHL history to reach the 200-goal plateau for his career, at just 23 years old, 37 days.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay kicks off a three-game homestand on Thursday that also sees the Bolts host contests at the Times Forum on Saturday and Monday, respectively. Coming off of two straight losses, the Lightning traveled to Sunrise Tuesday night for a divisional matchup against the Florida Panthers, skating away with two points following a 3-2 victory. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis each scored to put the Bolts out to a 2-0 lead, and although Florida tied it, Steven Stamkos' game-winner while on the power play just five minutes into the third was enough to support a 37-save effort from Anders Lindback. Tampa Bay was even outshot 39-13 in the contest, but still managed to record a seventh consecutive victory over its in-state rivals.
ISLANDERS – New York travels to Tampa Bay for the second contest of a three-game road trip. After falling 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at the CONSOL Energy Center, the Islanders will come in rested, but will also enter the contest looking to get back on the winning track. Despite the result of its most recent outing, New York has picked up victories in three of its past five games, which has afforded them the opportunity to stay in the playoff hunt, as they remain three points back of the eighth-place New York Rangers. A lot of that success had to do with scoring, which dried up on Sunday in Pittsburgh. The Islanders had averaged 3.6 goals over a 3-0-2 stretch, but saw their season-high point streak snapped against the Penguins, as Brad Boyes provided all the offense for New York, which in the defeat was outscored 3-0 in the first period.
Who's Hot: Martin St. Louis enters tonight's tilt on a seven-game point streak, the longest current point streak in the NHL, and also ranks second in the NHL with 29 assists. Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, is the league's first player to score 20 goals this season and enters Thursday having lit the lamp in three straight contests. For the Islanders, Brad Boyes has collected a goal and three points in his past two games, while Casey Cizikas and Matt Moulson enter with two points in as many contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). ISLANDERS – Matt Carkner (Groin, Placed On Injured Reserve), Michael Grabner (Shoulder, Placed On Injured Reserve), Jesse Joensuu (Sports Hernia) and Brian Strait (Fractured Ankle).
Connections: Lightning forward Nate Thompson, as well as defensemen Eric Brewer and Marc-Andre Bergeron are all former Islanders. Tampa Bay assistant Dan Lacroix served in the same capacity with New York during the 2006-07 season.
Twitter Stat Pack: The Lightning have won two straight games against New York on home ice and have earned a point in 13 of their past 14 games at the Times Forum (10-1-3). Steven Stamkos is on a five-game point streak against the Islanders dating back to last season, notching five goals and three assists during that span. Anders Lindback recorded one of his two career shutouts against the Islanders on December 13, 2010 (28 saves). Steven Stamkos reached the 20-goal mark in just 26 games this season, the second fastest in his NHL career after reaching that same plateau in just 21 games during the 2010-11 season. Vincent Lecavalier has gone 47-for-75 (62.6%) in the faceoff circle over the past four games.
Notable Quotable: "Over a season you're going to have stretches of struggles. The most important thing is to keep at it and not get stressed out." – Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback, following a 3-2 win over Florida on Tuesday night after rebounding from a 1-5 stretch.
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