The Tampa Bay Lightning stop by for a home game tonight against the Colorado Avalanche; a brief one-game visit before heading out on the road again for three contests.
Tonight’s contest marks the only visit which Colorado will make to the St. Pete Times Forum this season, and completes the two-game season series between these two teams. The Avalanche took the previous match-up, 4-3, on November 29th in Colorado.
Tampa Bay (7-15-8) has not played since Saturday night in Ottawa, and interim coach Rick Tocchet has used the past few days to split the squad into two and conduct a “mini-training camp.”
Veteran forward Jeff Halpern is expected to make his season debut against the Avalanche and Ryan Malone, absent from the last five games with an injury, should also be available to play tonight. Mike Smith, sporting a .924 save percentage, seventh best in the NHL, is expected to start in net for Tampa Bay.
The Colorado Avalanche visit the St. Pete Times Forum in the midst of a four-game road trip. They opened the trip with a win in Detroit before losing to Philadelphia, 5-2, on Tuesday.
The Avalanche (15-15-1) are tied for third in the Northwest Division with 31 points. The Avalanche are led by center Paul Stastny with 27 points and Milan Hejduk with 12 goals. In their previous meeting with the Lightning, forward Wojtek Wolski had two goals and Marek Svatos was credited with three assists.
After tonight, the Lightning travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Saturday night and meet the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday before enjoying a two-day Christmas break.