|TBL||2||1||0||0||1 (3 - 11)||4|
|NYR||2||0||1||0||0 (2 - 11)||3|
Lightning (19-10-5, 43 Points) at Rangers (20-14-1, 41 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-2-2); New York (6-4-0)
Season Series: The two teams meet tonight at Madison Square Garden for the second matchup of the four-game season series. Tampa Bay comes in with a one-game edge after winning the first contest back on Nov. 24 by a 5-3 decision at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay is tied with Atlanta for second place in the division, as both teams trail Washington by a single point. A win tonight, contingent on losses by both the Thrashers and Capitals, would give the Lightning sole possession of first place atop the Southeast standings. Tampa Bay is also seeking its 20thwin in just 35 games played, which would mark a franchise-best for the fastest span to that many wins in team history.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays the rubber match of a three-game road trip that began last night in Long Island with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders. The Lightning have won 11 of their last 17 games overall, and come into the latter half of the team’s eighth back-to-back set this season with a record of 4-2-1 in those games. Despite last night’s loss, Lightning goaltenders have allowed just five goals in their last four contests, including two last night against the Islanders. Dan Ellis made 26 saves on 28 shots in his second consecutive start and Ryan Malone had the team’s lone goal in regulation to give the Bolts their sixth consecutive game with at least a point.
RANGERS – New York hosts the Lightning for the first time this season as it opens a two-game home stand. The Rangers have won four of the last six and put together a three-game winning streak prior to its last game after alternating wins and losses in four straight contests. New York is coming off its first loss in nearly two weeks, as it fell to the division-rival Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Saturday. Derek Stepan scored the lone goal in the final period for the Rangers, who were then barraged with three third-period goals that gave the Flyers the win.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis is leading the Lightning with six points in his last three games, while Steven Stamkos has three points in as many games. New York’s Derek Stepan is the only Ranger riding a point streak, as he comes in with two points in his last two contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Steve Downie (ankle sprain, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Mike Smith (minor knee injury, out 2 weeks, placed on Injured Reserve). RANGERS – Vinny Prospal (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Derek Boogaard (shoulder), Ryan Callahan (broken hand), Marian Gaborik (groin strain) and Michael Del Zotto (flu).
Notable Quotable: “Christmas is coming and we have to be mentally strong. I like the fact that we're not playing at home before Christmas. My experience is when you're at home you're thinking of Christmas a lot. Right now it's business. We don't want to focus on other teams, but we have an opportunity to take the lead in our division.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher, on what’s at stake tonight against the Rangers
|M. St. Louis||35||14||31||45||+4||8||1||3|
|M. Del Zotto||34||2||7||9||+0||12||2||0|