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Last 10: Tampa Bay (3-7-0); Pittsburgh (4-3-3)
Season Series: Tampa Bay is looking to draw even in the conclusion of the four-game series tonight at Mellon Arena between the Lightning and Penguins. Pittsburgh has taken two of the first three games, earning victories in each team’s home arena. The Lightning beat the Penguins in front of a sellout crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 2 in a 3-1 decision, but have not won at Pittsburgh since December of last season.
The Big Story: Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby will face off tonight for the last time this season, marking both players’ last opportunity to duel head-to-head for the NHL’s goal-scoring crown. Crosby enters tonight with a league-leading 47 goals, while Stamkos comes in behind Alex Ovechkin with 45.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up its four-game home stand tonight against the defending Stanley Cup champs, with tonight’s game being the second half of a back-to-back series. The team will return to the St. Pete Times Forum to take on the New York Rangers on Friday. The Lightning are seeking to finish the season strong by stringing together a pair of wins. Last night, the Bolts fell to the Blue Jackets 3-2, despite taking a one-goal lead into the third period. Mike Lundin extended a career-best point streak to four games with a goal and Vincent Lecavalier scored on the power play for the Lightning, who are winless in two straight. Kurtis Foster returned to the lineup last night after missing the previous game due to injury, however rookie defenseman Victor Hedman took an early exit against the Blue Jackets with a lower body injury.
PENGUINS – Pittsburgh plays for the third time on its six-game home stand, its longest stretch at Mellon Arena of the season. The Penguins come in as winners of two straight after losing their previous three matches in consecutive decisions. Superstar captain Sidney Crosby is to thank for the team’s recent success, including a 5-4 shootout win against Toronto on Sunday. Crosby scored twice in regulation before adding the game-winner in the tie-breaker for Pittsburgh, who also got goals from Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. Evgeni Malkin, who is still out nursing a foot injury that occurred the last time the Bolts and Pens met on Mar. 14, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar did not play in the game, but have been practicing according to the team’s web site. Defenseman Kris Letang, on the other hand, signed a four-year contract extension with the club yesterday.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Steve Downie has recorded points in four out of his last five and Mike Lundin comes in with a career-high four-game point streak. Martin St. Louis has five points in his last four, while Vincent Lecavalier has 12 points in his last 14. Steven Stamkos also has 18 points in 16 games.
- Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is leading the Penguins with four points in his last two games. Chris Kunitz has tallied three points in as many games and both Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold each have a pair of points in two games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING - Ryan Malone (upper body, day-to-day), Matt Smaby (back spasms, day-to-day) and David Hale (lower body, out). PENGUINS – Sergei Gonchar (illness, out) and Evgeni Malkin (undisclosed injury, out).
Quotable: “If you don’t show character in these games, you won’t last long in this league. People look at that stuff. Who is going to show character and battle and just keep going no matter where you stand? It's all part of being a pro.” – Lightning left wing Todd Fedoruk on the team’s sense of urgency going into the final week of the season
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