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Season Series: Tonight’s contest marks the third meeting between the two clubs in three weeks, with them splitting the first two occasions. The Lightning traveled to Scotiabank Place on October 15 and fell to the Senators, but returned the favor when Ottawa traveled to Tampa and were defeated 5-2 by the Bolts. After tonight, the two teams will meet for the final time on Apr. 8 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Big Story: Tampa Bay’s defense and the play of goaltender Antero Niittymaki has been superb in two out of the Lightning’s last three games. On Tuesday at Toronto, and in the final game of the team’s most recent home stand against New Jersey on October 31, the Lightning only allowed an aggregate of two goals in regulation. That total has contributed to Antero Niittymaki’s stellar numbers this season, including a 3-1-1 record, an NHL-best .940 save percentage, and a 1.95 goals-against average which ranks fourth in the league among goaltenders who have appeared in at least six games. Defensemen Victor Hedman and Mattias Ohlund continue to play well along the blue line as well. Hedman matched his career-high of four blocked shots on Tuesday at Toronto, while Ohlund set season highs in blocked shots and hits, recording five each.
LIGHTNING – Vincent Lecavalier responded to being moved to the fourth line with Stephane Veilleux and Drew Miller by scoring his second goal of the season on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre. Lecavalier’s goal, in addition to another game-winner by Ryan Malone, earned the Bolts their first victory on the road this season. The Bolts have now totaled 14 points in 13 games. Several season-highs in addition to those set by Hedman and Ohlund were also achieved by several Lightning players in their last game. Jeff Halpern recorded 17:42 in ice time, Ryan Malone tallied five hits for the second time this season and Antero Niittymaki stopped 40 of 41 shots against.
SENATORS - Ottawa has been forced to deal with some injuries recently. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov is out for a few weeks with a right elbow injury and center Jason Spezza missed Ottawa’s last game on October 31 against Atlanta with an upper-body injury. He's listed as day-to- day. The Senators have also struggled with penalties in two of their previous three games. Florida had seven power-play chances to Ottawa’s one on October 28 and Tampa Bay had six to the Sens’ three the following day on October 29. Ottawa gave up a total of three power-play goals in the state of Florida during its back-to-back set despite having one of the league’s top penalty kill units.
- Steven Stamkos has scored eight goals in his last seven games. He has also recorded a point in all but two games this season, as has teammate Martin St. Louis who totaled at least a point in each of the Lightning’s first 11 games.
- Ryan Malone netted his fourth game-winning goal in the Bolts’ overtime victory at Toronto, making him just the eighth player in NHL history to record the game-deciding tally in four out of a team’s first five victories in a season.
- Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is on a seven-game point scoring streak, tallying three goals and nine assists for 12 total points.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – None; SENATORS – Anton Volchenkov (elbow, missed two games), Jason Spezza (upper body, day-to-day, missed two games).
Quotable: “We really met the challenge and guys came to play. It was a nice step. Now, we have to build on that.” – Rick Tocchet, after Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win at Toronto.
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