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Lightning (16-20-2, 34 Points) vs. Senators (19-13-6, 44 Points)
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Florida; AM 970 WFLA
This is the third and final meeting between the Bolts and Senators. The two clubs have split the season series thus far, winning a game apiece in each team’s home arena. The Lightning first earned a 6-4 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum back on January 25, only to have the Senators counter with a 5-3 win last week at Scotiabank Place in Canada’s capital city.
Tampa Bay returns home following a three-game road trip to kick off a series of two straight games at home. The Bolts earned two out of a possible six points on the trip, which for the most part, eliminated the team from postseason contention, although mathematically there is still a chance. The Lightning, coming off two straight losses, enter Tuesday’s contest with 34 points, just two ahead of the last-place Panthers in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa, meanwhile, has dropped four straight but remains sixth in the standings, good for a playoff spot, with 44 points. Tuesday’s matchup also features a reunion of sorts, as both Senators forward Cory Conacher and Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop will face their former teams after being swapped for one another at last week’s deadline.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay begins a two-game slate at the Times Forum this week with contests against Ottawa and Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. After gaining points in four consecutive games, the Lightning were creeping closer to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but were set back over the weekend following losses in two consecutive games. On Saturday, the Bolts fell on Long Island 4-2 to the Islanders, only to fall by the same score the very next day, losing to the Capitals on Sunday night at the Verizon Center. Vincent Lecavalier recorded his first goal after coming back from injury, and Alex Killorn also scored, but Washington overcame two one-goal deficits, scoring three times in the second period, despite a strong 34-save effort from Ben Bishop.
SENATORS – Ottawa continues on its lengthy six-game road trip, as the contest in Tampa Bay marks the fourth game of the swing. The Senators, despite remaining in the top eight as they continue their quest for the playoffs, have struggled a bit as of late, losing four straight after stringing together three consecutive victories. The problem perhaps to be in the goal scoring department, where Ottawa has scored zero, two, two and one goal, respectively, over that four-game stretch. On Sunday, Ottawa fell 2-1 to the last-place Panthers, getting a goal from former Bolts forward Cory Conacher, his first since being acquired by the team last week. The good news for Ottawa was that starting netminder Craig Anderson returned to action between the pipes after missing 18 games with an ankle injury sustained on February 21, but even that couldn’t help propel the Senators to snap a three-game losing streak despite a 15-save effort.
Tampa Bay’s Matt Carle is riding a career-high five-game point streak with a goal and seven points in that span, while captain Vincent Lecavalier has recorded a goal and three points in his past two games. For Ottawa, Mika Zibanejad is enjoying a three-game assist streak with four in that span and Jakob Silfverberg also has a three-game assist streak going, but with one less helper than Zibanejad.
LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Anders Lindback (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Victor Hedman (Lower Body).
SENATORS – Jared Cowen (Hip Surgery), Mike Hoffman (Collarbone), Erik Karlsson (Achilles Laceration), Milan Michalek (Knee Surgery) and Jason Spezza (Back Surgery).
Senators defenseman Mike Lundin was originally drafted by the Lightning and spent four seasons with the Bolts before his departure following the 2010-11 season. Lightning netminder Ben Bishop was a member of the Senators as early as a week ago, but was swapped for forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick at last week’s NHL Trade Deadline. Bolts defenseman Sami Salo was also drafted by Ottawa back in 1996 and played for the team until 2002 prior to joining the Vancouver Canucks.
The Bolts will be looking to keep their home points streak alive, going 4-0-1 over their past five contests at the Times Forum.
Matt Carle enters tonight's game on a career-high five game point and assist streak, recording a goal and six assists over that stretch.
Tampa Bay has scored six third period goals in two games against the Senators this season. Sami Salo has collected points in both games versus Ottawa and has 12 points in 12 career games against the Senators (one goal, 11 assists).
Steven Stamkos has scored four goals over his past seven games and has also posted three assists over his past three games.
“Losses like these are tough to swallow, but until we're mathematically out of it, we're going to play as hard as we can.” – Lightning forward Alex Killorn, following Sunday’s loss, on the outlook of the team for the remaining nine games of the regular season
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