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Lightning (39-22-10, 88 Points) at Senators (26-36-9, 61 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (3-4-3); Ottawa (6-4-0)
Season Series: The Lightning and Senators will face off in the third of four meetings this season tonight at ScotiaBank Place. After Tampa Bay took the first meeting of the year back on Jan. 8, Ottawa avenged the loss in the most recent meeting between the clubs, played on Mar. 11 in Tampa Bay. Each of the first two meetings this season have been decided by just a single goal. The clubs will wrap up the season set on Mar. 29 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Big Story: The wins haven’t been coming as of late for the Lightning, but the points certainly have. That’s all that really counts at this stage of the season with Tampa Bay still in reach of Washington for the division crown. The Lightning have earned points in five of their last six games, with the only exception coming in the team’s last matchup with Ottawa on Mar. 11. A win tonight would not only pull them into a tie for fourth place with Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference, but also give Tampa Bay 40 wins on the season for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts will wrap up a four-game road swing tonight, which for the most part, has gone relatively well to this point, as Tampa Bay has picked up points in each of the first three games, giving them four out of a possible six on the trip coming into tonight. Following a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal Thursday night, the Lightning boarded a bus and arrived in Ottawa early yesterday morning. For the second time in three games, Simon Gagne notched the game-tying goal in the final period on Thursday to send the contest into overtime, ensuring the Bolts at least one point. Teddy Purcell also had a goal in the game and Dwayne Roloson made a number of spectacular saves, but couldn’t solve Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri in the shootout. Martin St. Louis added two assists to extend his points streak to six games.
SENATORS – Ottawa hosts the Lightning in the finale of a three-game home stand tonight, as the Senators have split the first pair of games on the current swing. The Senators, still in last place in the Eastern Conference with 61 points, have been one of the league’s hottest teams since the end of February, winning eight of their last 13 games, with four out of five losses in that span coming by no more than two goals. After suffering a 5-1 loss to the Penguins on Tuesday that kicked off the home stretch, Ottawa rebounded with a big win Thursday over the Devils, who had won 23 of the last 28 games before facing the Senators. It wasn’t easy however, as Ottawa narrowly held on to a one-goal lead after New Jersey’s Brian Rolston brought the game to within one goal on the power play just five minutes into the final frame. Fortunately, Chris Neil pulled through for the Senators with two goals in the third, including the last that put the Senators up by two with 38 seconds left in regulation for the win. Curtis McElhinney, who was claimed off waivers by the Senators from the Lightning in late January, made 33 saves to earn his second win in three starts since joining Ottawa.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis is riding a six-game point streak with a pair of goals and eight assists in that span, while captain Vincent Lecavalier has 10 goals and 16 points in his last 17 games. Teddy Purcell has also been factoring in on the scoring recently for the Bolts. He comes in with five goals and five assists in his last 12 contests.
Injuries: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (mid body, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Steve Downie (lower body, day-to-day), Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely) and Simon Gagne (upper body, day-to-day). SENATORS – Daniel Alfredsson (back), Matt Carkner (knee), Milan Michalek (foot) and Peter Regin (shoulder).
Notable Quotable: “We’ve had some chances, and we can’t put them in. When you're missing a key player it’s a lot easier for the opponent to put their best players against our best players because our offense isn’t spread out. It becomes tougher for (Steven) Stamkos, it becomes tougher for (Martin) St. Louis.” – Guy Boucher, on how the absence of the team’s injured players is affecting the team’s scoring ability
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