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Tampa Bay 4-5-1; Ottawa 4-6-0
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators meet for the first of five games this season Thursday. The Senators are one of two teams (Detroit Red Wings) the Bolts play the most (five games) in the 2013-14 campaign.
Boasting one of the best home records in the league (10-3-0), the Lightning face a Senators’ team that has found more success on the road, rather than the friendly confines of the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Goaltender Ben Bishop also sees his former club for just the second time since being traded to Tampa Bay last April.
LIGHTNING – Earlier this week head coach Jon Cooper said he would not be worried about the team’s lack of offense unless they had been shut out three times in five games. Well, the Bolts were handed just that in a 1-0 whitewash by the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday. Despite outshooting the Blue Jackets in the first 20 minutes, the team’s offense was nonexistent for better parts of the next 40 minutes of the contest. Tampa Bay exerted their last ounce of fight in the final two minutes of play, but could not break backup goal Curtis McElhinney, who relieved an injured Sergei Bobrovsky.
Now the Lightning have some questions to answer as they face another struggling team Thursday. With Ottawa’s road penalty kill 27th out of 30 teams and giving up the second-most goals against in the first period (32), Tampa Bay has yet another opportunity to get a boost of confidence in those categories. The team is just hoping these past two weeks have not been a crossroad in the wrong direction after responding well to adversity previously.
SENATORS – The Senators entered Tuesday’s tilt losing six out of their past eight games and it seemed as if they might be in for another dropped decision after falling behind 2-0 early in the matchup against the Florida Panthers. However the team responded well to head coach Paul MacLean’s line shuffling, which included moving fourth-liner Erik Condra up to a line with Jason Spezza and Clarke MacArthur, as they produced a 4-2 winning result.
It was exactly what the Senators needed as they have been unable to perform well on a consistent basis all season. Ottawa has only strung together a three-game winning streak once this year and they have also only won two in a row one other time. Collecting another win on the road could be a good thing for the Senators, who close out December’s slate with 10 of 13 games at home where they have a 4-8-2 record.
Although netminder Ben Bishop has lost three of his last four games, he has given up just four goals and stopped 124 of 128 shots.
Lightning – D Eric Brewer (lower body, day-to-day), D Radko Gudas (upper body, day-to-day), F Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Ryan Malone (lower body, out), F Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone, out), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Senators – No Current Injuries
11/27 Recalled Forward Dana Tyrell from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning’s @BenBishop30 has stopped 120 of 124 shots over his past four games and has allowed just four goals against.
Since @Kucher86 was recalled from the @SyracuseCrunch, he and @JTBrown23 have combined for 21 shots on goal for the #TBLightning.
The #Bolts penalty kill is ninth-best in the #NHL with a 85% kill rate.
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