New York’s Brad Richards is third in Lightning history in games played (552), assists(339) and points (489).
Rangers head coach John Tortorella is the Lightning’s all-time leader in wins (227) and games coached 492.
Madison Square Garden (1968) is currently the oldest arena in the NHL.
It’s the third of four total meetings between the clubs. The teams split each of the first two matchups, with each side earning a win in the other’s home arena. New York bested Tampa Bay back on Dec. 3 with a 4-2 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, which came just five days before the Lightning avenged the loss with a 3-2 win of their own in the shootout at Madison Square Garden.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay had its streak of seven consecutive games with at least a point come to an end on Tuesday night, but nonetheless comes into Thursday with some momentum, having won six of the past eight. The Bolts look to keep the recent stretch of success going in order to continue an upward push for the playoffs, but will have to do it on the road where they haven’t played more than two consecutive games since a three-game trip in early January.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay opens up a three-game road trip that starts in the Big Apple on Thursday and concludes with a back-to-back set over the weekend at Buffalo and Pittsburgh, respectively. Tuesday night saw the Lightning end their streak of seven consecutive games with at least a point in each, but the team nonetheless still heads into its swing away from home with nearly a full head of steam, having won six of the past eight games. It had a chance in its most recent outing against the cross-conference Kings to gain some ground on the teams in close proximity to them in the playoff hunt, as Ottawa, Florida and Toronto all lost in regulation. The Lightning, however, ran into a stingy Los Angeles defense, managing only to tie the game at 1-1 on Steven Stamkos’ league-leading 35th goal of the year before the Kings went on to get a pair of additional tallies late in the second period to earn a 3-1 victory.
RANGERS – New York hosts the Lightning in the final contest of a three-game home stand at Madison Square Garden. With an Eastern Conference-best 71 points, also good for second place among all 30 NHL clubs, the Rangers have won two of the past three, but nearly put together a three-game win streak in the team’s most recent outing on Tuesday night against the division-rival Devils. Artem Anisimov appeared to tie the game at 1-1 with just three seconds left, but the goal was called off after Rangers forward Marian Gaborik was flagged for goaltender interference, allowing the Devils to escape with a slim 1-0 victory backed by Martin Brodeur’s 117th career shutout.
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis has points in all but one of his past 10 games, recording six goals and 16 points in that span. Bolts forward Steven Stamkos also has goals in three of his past four games and points in four straight. For the Rangers, Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan each have a pair of points in their past two games.
“For us, it’s about what we do and not the teams in front of us. It’s not about the standings. We really don’t care about that, and when we do that we have a tendency to do very well.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on his team’s mindset entering its three-game road trip
Rangers head coach John Tortorella served as head coach in Tampa Bay from Jun. 6, 2001, to Jun. 3, 2008. During his tenure with the Bolts, Tortorella led the Lightning to the only Stanley Cup championship in team history, compiled a 239–222–36–38 record and still stands today as the franchise’s most-winningest coach.
Center Brad Richards proved his worth in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Tampa Bay, where he registered 12 goals and 26 points to lead all NHL postseason skaters on his way to capturing both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player. Richards still holds several Lightning franchise records, including a share of the regular single-season assist mark of 68, most power-play points in a single campaign (46), most assists in a single game by a rookie (3), and most goals (12) and points (26) in a single postseason campaign. He also ranks third on Tampa Bay’s all-time career scoring list with 489 points and holds the same position on the Bolts’ list of all-time postseason scorers with 47 points.
New York forward Ruslan Fedotenko had both of the Lightning’s goals in the decisive Game 7 victory over the Calgary Flames to win the Stanley Cup.
Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger spent part of the 2008-09 season with Tampa Bay, skating in 50 games with the Lightning and registering 23 points in that span. Eminger was acquired by the Lightning, from Philadelphia, in the same deal that brought Steve Downie to Tampa Bay on Nov. 7, 2008.