Ottawa’s thread to the post-season is as thin as it can get, and tonight, the Lightning will try to sever the cord completely when the Senator’s come to town at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Playing spoiler may be all that is left of the Tampa Bay season, but it is a role that the Lightning relish, and they have put forth some of their strongest efforts of late. The Bolts have pushed the contending Blue Jackets and Canadiens to overtime recently, and mounted a three goal comeback to tie the Washington Capitals before eventually falling, 5-3, on Friday night.
Tonight’s contest is the fourth and final meeting between the Lightning and the Senators in 2008-09. Tampa Bay has a 1-1-1 record against Ottawa this season, including 1-0-0 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay’s leading scorer, Martin St. Louis, had his consecutive game scoring streak snapped at nine against the Canadiens on Thursday night, but then he climbed right back on the horse when he produced three points, a goal and two assists, against the Capitals.
The Lightning forward currently has a team-high 77 points and is tied with Vincent Lecavalier for the lead in goals scored with 29.
Steven Stamkos is sitting with 19 goals scored on the season, one short of the benchmark of 20 for his rookie season. He has at least a point in seven of the last eight games, including five goals and four assists.
Ottawa arrives in Tampa having dropped a game to the Atlanta Thrashers, 6-3, on Saturday night. They are currently 32-32-10 and their playoff hopes are precarious, at best.
Whatever troubles the Senators have experienced this season, they don’t revolve around offense, since the big three forwards on Ottawa have been consistently productive. Daniel Alfredsson leads the club with 71 points and Dany Heatley is pacing the club with 34 goals.
Rookie Brian Elliott has seen much of the action in the nets for Ottawa of late. He faced the Lightning on March 11th when the Senators came away with an overtime win. In that game Elliott stopped 24 of 26 shots.
Tampa Bay will head out on the road again following tonight’s game to face the Boston Bruins in Boston on Tuesday, the start of a three-game road swing that includes games with the Devils and Islanders.