The Tampa Bay Lightning, seeking their first win of the season, face off against the New York Islanders tonight in the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tonight’s contest is the first of four regular season meetings between the two clubs. The Lightning, with a record of 0-2-1 are coming off a disappointing overtime loss to Carolina while the Islanders, 1-2-0 this season, fell to Buffalo on Monday, 7-1.
Tampa Bay will seek to get their special team play in gear, most notably the power play. The Islanders, on the other hand, have had difficulty when they are short-handed.. The New York club is sporting a penalty kill that ranks 24th in the league, with only a 72.2 % success rating.
Coach Barry Melrose is expected to start Olaf Kolzig between the pipes for the Lightning. The start will mark Kolzig’s second starting assignment of the regular season. For the Islanders, All-Star goaltender Rick DiPietro, battling injury, has yet to make an appearance this season and his back-up, Joey MacDonald, has played every minute in the team’s first three games. MacDonald is sporting 3.67 goals-against average. No word yet if DiPietro will be ready to go.
Tonight’s game is the first of four homes games for the Lightning to be played over the next nine days, and Coach Melrose, for one, welcomes the activity.
“We’re anxious to get into an NHL rhythm,” Melrose explained. “It’s a mental challenge to keep sharp in practice. To really effectively improve, we need game situations.”
With the expected return to action of defenseman Paul Ranger, Tampa Bay will have a full contingent of eight healthy defensemen for the first time this season. A decision on who, if anyone, would sit wasn’t expected until game time.