Lightning continue playoff push vs. Rangers
Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:06 AM
It's the fourth and final meeting between the clubs. To date, New York has won two of the first three matchups, including one in overtime in the most recent meeting back on Feb. 9. Tampa Bay's lone win in the season series came in a 3-2 shootout win in Madison Square Garden in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.
The Big Story:
Despite injuries and illness, the Lightning continue to fight and push their way towards the postseason, as they enter Friday just five points behind the division-rival Capitals for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Tampa Bay comes into Friday's contest against the Rangers as winners of two straight, but face a stiff challenge from New York, currently in first place in the East with 86 points and a 19-8-4 record on the road.
LIGHTNING –Tampa Bay wraps up a two-game home stand, but also plays in the first half of a back-to-back set which concludes Saturday night at Carolina. Adversity has been nothing new to the Lightning this season, yet the team continues to impressively overcome it to stay alive in the Eastern Conference postseason race. Even with six call-ups from the club's top AHL affiliate in Norfolk, and with four mainstays ill with the flu, the Bolts still managed to edge out the slumping Canadiens by a 2-1 score on Tuesday night to collect their second straight win and climb to within just five points of the Capitals for the final postseason spot in the standings. Steven Stamkos
notched his league-best 44th goal of the season, while Adam Hall
snapped a 45-game goal-less drought to support a 23-save effort by Mathieu Garon
, who improved to 10-3-2 in its past 15 games. The win was the Lightning's sixth straight by just one goal.
RANGERS –New York completes the second half of a back-to-back set after kicking things off Thursday night at Carolina. The Rangers have won three in a row, stretching the streak to the current mark after the team's 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in Raleigh. A pair of second-period goals by Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik gave New York a one-goal lead heading into the third, and although the teams exchanged scores in the final 20 minutes, Jay Harrison's goal with 40 seconds remaining was not enough to lift Carolina over the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers, who got 21 saves from backup net minder Martin Biron.
The NHL's leading goal scorer in Steven Stamkos
has points in six of his past seven games with seven goals and 14 points in that span. Teddy Purcell
is also riding a career-high seven-game point streak with four goals and 10 assists over that stretch. For the Rangers, Carl Hagelin has four points in his past three games.
LIGHTNING –Mattias Ohlund
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Ryan Shannon
(upper body, day-to-day), Vincent Lecavalier
(non-displaced hand fracture, out indefinitely), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, day-to-day) and Victor Hedman
(upper body, day-to-day).
RANGERS –Brandon Dubinski (shoulder), Ryan Callahan (foot) and Michael Sauer (concussion).
"We're not going to quit. We battle until the end like we've done the last month and a half. That's the way we're going to survive." – Mathieu Garon, on his team's resiliency and continuous push for the playoffs
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.
Current Bolts center Adam Hall
is a one-time Ranger.