Season Series: Tonight marks the first of four contests this season between the two clubs. The Lightning will travel to Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19 and Feb. 14, while the Rangers will not make their second and final visit to the St. Pete Times Forum until Apr. 2.
The Big Story: The Bolts have recorded two out of a possible six points over their last three games and look to get back on the winning track against a Rangers team that has won two in a row. The Lightning look to slow down New York’s high powered offense, but still without veteran defenseman Mattias Ohlund, Tampa Bay must continue to receive big games from Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster, who have marked the score sheet of late.
LIGHTNING – This is the second of three games in a four-night span for the Bolts. On Wednesday the Lightning faced off against Toronto, and will travel to Dallas tomorrow for a one-game road trip. Despite the rigorous schedule, Tampa Bay still retains an advantage for tonight’s game, as they will take on the Rangers in front of a crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum, where the Lightning have only lost one home game in regulation this season, tied for a league’s best.
RANGERS – Head coach John Tortorella called the attention of his club after a slow start in Columbus on Monday night, and did they respond. The Rangers scored seven unanswered goals to beat Columbus 7-4, then beat the Panthers 2-1 in a shootout at Florida on Wednesday. Captain Chris Drury was back in the lineup against the Panthers after suffering a concussion against Calgary on Nov. 7 and made an instant impact by assisting on a power-play goal. The Rangers also recalled Hartford Wolfpack (AHL) defenseman and 2006 first-round pick Bobby Sanguinetti on Thursday, who led all AHL defensemen with 22 points, which is also good for fourth overall in the league. Who’s Hot:
- Alex Tanguay has recorded 11 points in his last 11 games, and sophomore center Steven Stamkos, who along with Ryan Malone is ranked third in the NHL, has tallied nine points in his last six contests.
- Martin St. Louis has gone five consecutive games with a point, recording two goals, five assists.
- Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik has tallied 14 points in his last eight games. Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day); RANGERS – Brandon Dubinsky (six games missed), Ales Kotalik (one game missed). Quotable: “You’ve got to play real simple and smart. You’ve got to get pucks in deep and just buy your time. That’s the mental toughness that we’re looking for.” – Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet.