The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their road odyssey when they stop in New Jersey to face the Devils at the Prudential Center tonight.
Tampa Bay has not gotten a win against New Jersey in their three previous meetings this season, but if they are to pull out a victory over the Devils, tonight might offer the best opportunity the Lightning will have.
Despite clinching a playoff spot, New Jersey, 47-26-4, has been skidding of late, losing their last six games in a row. It’s a rare losing streak for a team that features one of the NHL’s leading scorers in Zach Parise and one of the all-time greats, Martin Brodeur, in net.
Tampa Bay, 24-36-17, is led by leading scorer Martin St. Louis. St. Louis has 77 points for the season and is tied with Vincent Lecavalier for the team lead in goals score with 29. That title will likely fall to St. Louis, however, since Lecavalier will miss the last five games of the Lightning season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist.
Forward Ryan Malone has three goals in three games against New Jersey this season. Malone, along with talented rookie Steven Stamkos, who has six goals in his last eight games, will be expected to fill some of the gap with Lecavalier’s injury.
Former New Jersey first round draft pick Parise is making the most of his fourth season in the NHL. He is second in goals among all NHL players with 42 and fifth in the league for points scored with 89. He’s got plenty of double-digit goal scorers keeping him company on the Devils – eight, to be exact. Dainius Zubrus, with 14 goals, has particularly enjoyed success this season against Tampa Bay, scoring four goals and seven points in the three games against the Bolts.