The Tampa Bay Lightning wrap up their four-game homestand when they host a rare visit from the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.
This will be the first and only meeting between these two teams this season, although the Lightning have posted a 3-1-0 record in four meetings against the Blue Jackets at the St. Pete Times Forum in franchise history.
The talk of Tampa Bay (23-33-16) has been of highly touted rookie Steven Stamkos. After a slow start to his professional career, Stamkos has been scoring goals in bunches of late; he collected two last Saturday night in a contest the Lightning eventually lost in a shootout to Atlanta. He now has 18 goals on the season and is riding a five-game point streak.
Also putting together a string of consecutive games with points has been Martin St. Louis. He has points in eight straight games; the longest consecutive point streak on the season for the Lightning. St. Louis sits atop the scoring lead for the team with 73 total points. The Tampa Bay forward has had success against the Blue Jackets in the past, collecting five goals and eight points in eight career games against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets arrive in Tampa after defeating the Florida Panthers by scoring three unanswered goals with less than three minutes to play in the game.
Beating up on the Eastern Division has been routine for Columbus this season and is one reason they are headed for their first playoff berth in the nine years of franchise history. The Blue Jackets (38-28-6) have got 13-3-1 against the Eastern Division teams and tonight marks their final game against the East.
Even in their own Division, the Blue Jackets have been formidable of late; going 6-1 over their last seven games.
Leading the charge has been Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, a rookie who has compiled some terrific numbers in his first NHL season. His 2.23 goals against average is second best among all NHL netminders and he leads the NHL in shutouts with nine.
Forward Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets in the offensive categories including goals with 34 and points with 67.
The Lightning head out for two road games following this contest, including their last trip to Canada of the season, to play the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.