The Lightning (19-27-11) are 2-3-0 on the current homestand after dropping a decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. In that contest, heralded rookie Steven Stamkos exploded for a hat trick, the first ever by a rookie in Lightning franchise history.
“It’s obviously a very memorable game for me,” Stamkos said. “Anytime you get a hat trick, it’s pretty special, but to do it on home-ice in Tampa in my rookie season is a dream come true for me.”
Stamkos now has produced five points in his last five games.
Against the Blackhawks, Lightning netminder Karri Ramo stopped 44 shots, setting a new high for his NHL career. Ramo is expected to get the start against the Devils tonight.
The New Jersey Devils (37-18-3) sit comfortably atop the Atlantic Division with 77 points. They have been especially successful on the road, losing only eight of 28 contests away from their home ice.
They enter tonight’s game after a rare road loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Previously, the Devils were riding a four-game win streak and a seven-game road win streak. They have not suffered back-to-back losses in six weeks.
When perennial all-star netminder Martin Brodeur was injured on November 1, the conventional wisdom was that New Jersey likely would find the going tough. Not so.
Scott Clemmensen has been solid in Brodeur’s place, going 25-12-1. Clemmensen is among the top ten of all NHL netminders in wins, goals-against average (2.35) and save percentage.
On the offense, New Jersey is led by Zack Parise. His 34 goals this season leads the Devils and is second best of all NHL goal scorers. He is also among the top five in the league in points with 69. All together, the Devils feature 8 skaters with 10 or more goals on the season.
Following tonight’s game, the Lightning fly to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. They return to Tampa for a Sunday game against Boston before heading out on a three-game road trip to the Canadian west.