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Lightning (13-16-1, 27 Points) at Senators (16-9-6, 38 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
It’s the second of three total meetings on the year between the clubs. Tampa Bay earned a 6-4 victory in the first matchup back on January 25 in Tampa Bay with Steven Stamkos’ three-point effort leading the way. Following Saturday’s afternoon matinee, the Bolts and Senators will wrap up the season finale on April 9 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay saw its modest two-game win streak come to an end on Wednesday night in Toronto, as the Lightning failed to gain any ground in the conference standings and look to rebound with a victory in order to stay in the playoff hunt. Ottawa, meanwhile, has won three of its past four and remains in reach of both Boston and Montreal, each of whom are ahead of the Senators in the division race by no more than seven points.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay continues on its three-game road swing through Canada and skates in the first half of a back-to-back set Saturday in Ottawa, with the conclusion of the trip coming the following night, on Sunday, at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The youth movement in Tampa Bay continues to make a significant impact night in and night out, but on Wednesday in Toronto, not even a pair of goals in the third period by two rookies could help the Lightning overcome an early 4-0 deficit. Joffrey Lupul scored for Toronto in the first frame before Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin tallied three consecutive second-period goals to take a commanding four-goal lead into the third. It was then when Radko Gudas notched his first career NHL goal and Cory Conacher followed it up with one of his own, but the rally came too late in the game as the Leafs snapped a five-game losing skid. Mathieu Garon started in net, but was pulled in favor of Anders Lindback. Garon, however, would re-enter the game after Lindback sustained an undisclosed lower body injury that forced him out.
SENATORS – Ottawa competes in the second contest of a five-game homestand after hosting the Bruins on Thursday night. The swing didn’t quite open up as the Senators would have liked, as the club fell 2-1 in what was a closely-contested matchup. Ottawa’s Kaspars Daugavins opened the scoring to put the Senators out to a 1-0 lead, but it didn’t hold as the Bruins got two consecutive goals, including one in each of the final two periods, from Daniel Paille and Dennis Seidenberg to pull ahead and maintain the lead throughout regulation in order to earn the win. The defeat may have also slowed down some momentum that Ottawa brought going in, as prior to the loss Thursday night, the Senators had garnered at least one point in 13 of their past 15 games.
Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson has a goal and four points in his past three games, while Martin St. Louis has tallied three assists in as many contests. For the Senators, defenseman Sergei Gonchar has a goal and 14 points during a nine-game point streak.
LIGHTNING – Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Vincent Lecavalier (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Ryan Malone (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Anders Lindback (Lower Body, Day-To-Day). SENATORS - Jared Cowen (Hip), Milan Michalek (Knee), Erik Karlsson (Achilles), Jason Spezza (Back), Craig Anderson (Ankle), Dave Dziurzynski (Concussion), Mike Lundin (Concussion) and Marc Methot (Lower Body).
Brian Lee was originally drafted by the Senators ninth overall in the 2005 NHL Draft and recorded five goals and 28 points in 167 career games with Ottawa. Mike Lundin was originally drafted by the Lightning and spent four seasons with the Bolts before his departure following the 2010-11 season.
Ottawa has the league’s 11th ranked power play at 19.8 percent, while Tampa Bay comes in 13th at 18.9 percent.
Ottawa comes in with the NHL’s second-best penalty kill at 88.6 percent, while Tampa Bay is seventh with an 83.5 efficiency rate.
The Lightning are averaging 3.27 goals per game, which ranks third in the NHL.
The Lightning and Senators have a player each who ranks in the Top 10 of rookie scoring, as Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher is first in the NHL among rookies with 22 points and Ottawa’s Patrick Wiercioch is eighth with 14 points.
Sami Salo has collected 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 11 career games against the Senators, including a two assist performance in the first meeting of the season between the two teams.
“You can't expect to win an NHL game if you're not going to play 60 minutes full out with the urgency needed right off the bat. We looked like we were just waiting to see what was going to happen out there.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, following Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat to the Maple Leafs in Toronto
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