The Lightning open up a three game roadtrip with two pre-Christmas games in New York… their opening match-up has the Bolts squaring off against the New York Islanders on Wednesday in the third meeting of the year between the two teams, followed by a meeting with the NY Rangers on Thursday.
In their previous two meetings, the Islanders defeated the Bolts 3-2 in overtime at the St. Pete Times Forum back on October 21st and on November 17th the Lightning defeated the Islanders 4-2 in regulation at the Nassau Coliseum, spoiling Jack Capuano’s debut as the Islanders new head coach.
The Lightning (19-10-4) come into the Nassau Coliseum looking for a season high-tying fifth straight win and fresh off a three game homestand sweep, with wins against the Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, and Carolina Hurricanes.
On Monday night against the Hurricanes, Steven Stamkos netted his 100th career goal to lead the Bolts past the Canes’ 5-1 on Steven Stamkos Bobblehead Night.
Stamkos at 20 years, 316 days became the sixth NHL player to reach 100 goals before his 21st birthday with a power-play tally in the second period, joining Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Dale Hawerchuk and Ilya Kovalchuk in the elite club.
On being the sixth player in NHL history to 100 goals before age 21 Stamkos said, “It’s obviously nice to have that accomplishment. You remember your first goal like it was yesterday and to have a hundred in a short career is obviously a great accomplishment but it’s not something I came into the game thinking about. It just happened and it wasn’t really anything that was brought up by anyone or myself. We’re on a good streak right now as a team and I was just happy to chip in.”
Dominic Moore, Martin St. Louis, Brett Clark and Sean Bergenheim also scored for the Lightning and Dan Ellis, starting for the injured Mike Smith turned in a 21 save performance to pick up his 9th win snapping the Hurricanes four-game winning streak.
Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists, giving him back-to-back three point games and 14 points in his last nine games.
“We’re rolling right now,” said St. Louis, We’re going good, but even keel. We can’t get too high. Just keep going about our business.”
“Everyone knows he’s the heart and soul guy. For me, everything starts with attitude, and then it goes down to work ethic, and then its discipline, and he’s got all three. He’s got all three on ice and off ice. Everybody gets energy from his attitude. It’s contagious,” said Coach Guy Boucher.
Sergei Samsonov had the lone Hurricanes goal and backup goalie Justin Peters started in place of Cam Ward, who missed game due to an infection in his eye.
The New York Islanders (6-18-6) come into tonight’s game with the NHLs worst record in wins (6) and points (18). Since opening the season 4-2-1, which included their win over the Lightning on October 21st, the Islanders are 2-17-4.
The Islanders were holding a slim 1-goal lead against the Phoenix Coyotes in their last game on Saturday night looking for back-to-back wins for the first time in almost two months, but saw that disappear when Michal Hanzal scored the tying goal with 1:28 left in regulation.
Following a scoreless overtime period, the game went into the shootout and Phoenix converted on three straight shootout attempts to rally for the 4-3 win. The comeback victory spoiled goaltender Nathan Lawson’s 32-save NHL debut.
Jesse Joensuu and Michael Grabner gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead with second period goals, but Phoenix responded early in the third to level the score. Rob Schremp reclaimed the Islanders’ one goal lead with his sixth goal of the season, before Hanzal forced overtime.
The Lightning have played the most road games of any team in the NHL this season with 19 and have 9 road wins, which is 4th most in the NHL. They come in with 103 goals scored (7th NHL) and are 14-0-1 when leading after 2 periods.
As well, they are holders of the league’s best power-play at 24.6% and the NHL’s 7th best penalty-kill at 84.3%. The Islanders are 29th in the league in goals per game at 2.17 and allow a league-high 3.37 goals per game.
A win tonight would make the Lightning the 3rd team in the NHL this season to have 10 or more wins at both home and on the road, following Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It would also mark a franchise record for the fastest span to 20 wins.
Dan Ellis will get the start in goal for the Bolts and as well will handle the majority of the Bolts upcoming games as Mike Smith is out with a sprained MCL of the knee for the next 2-3 weeks. Ellis is 1-0-1 with a 2.46 GAA against the Islanders this season. Cedrick Desjardins will backup Ellis and could see his first NHL action at some point.
For the Islanders, Nathan Lawson who made his NHL debut on Saturday against the Coyotes is likely to get the call in goal. Lawton was recalled on an emergency basis due to swelling in Rick DiPietro’s surgically repaired knee is now here to stay as DiPietro was placed on the IR.
Dwayne Roloson has played only twice in the last 18 days and hasn’t won since Oct. 18th, going 0-11-1 since. Roloson is 0-1-0 with a 3.05 GAA this season against the Bolts.
As a precaution, due to the upper-body injury sustained by Ryan Malone in the second period on Monday the Lightning has recalled Johan Harju from AHL Norfolk.
Lightning Nutz and Boltz
- Martin St. Louis has 5 goals and 9 assists in his last nine games. St. Louis picked up is 51st career game-winning goal when he scored during the first period against Carolina
- Ryan Malone also has points in nine of his last 10 games
- Mattias Ohlund is 1 shy of 250 assists
The Lightning has scored the NHL’s highest total of PPGs with 35 and has scored a PPG in 8 of the last 12 games, including 3 of the last 5 on the road. In those last 5 away from home, Tampa Bay has gone 4-16 (25.0%) with the man advantage.
A win tonight would give Tampa Bay 20 wins in 34 games, marking a franchise-best and breaking the previous record of 20 wins in 40 GP in 2005-06. Last season, the Bolts didn’t get 20 wins until their 50th game on Jan. 21.
Islanders News and Notes
- Matt Martin will miss this contest after being suspended two games for a blind-side check to the head of Phoenix’s Vernon Fiddler on Dec. 13th
- Rob Schremp has 5 goals and 9 points in his last nine contests
- John Tavares has gone nine games without a goal, managing only two in his last 21
- Former Bolt Zenon Konopka has won 59.8 percent of his draws this season, good for 4th among the NHL’s faceoff leaders. Konopka also ranks second in the NHL in PIMs with 107
- Rookie Michael Grabner scored his seventh goal of the season on Saturday night vs. Phoenix. He now ranks third on the Islanders in goals scored and 7th amongst NHL rookies
The Islanders have been outscored in the third period in 28 consecutive games, a league record.
The Islanders are 6-3-3 this season when scoring first and are 0-16-2 when conceding the game’s first goal.
Lightning: Steve Downie (Sprained ankle; IR), Mike Smith (Sprained MCL knee; out 2-3 weeks), Ryan Malone (Upper body; day-to-day), Mattias Ritola (Inner ear; day-to-day)
Islanders: Mark Eaton (Groin; out 1-2 weeks), Trent Hunter (Left knee MCL; Out indefinitely), Mike Mottau (Torn hip labrum; IR- out remainder of season), Doug Weight (Back Spasms; Out indefinitely ), Mark Streit (Shoulder), Kyle Okposo (Shoulder) and Rick DiPietro (Knee; IR)
Lightning Upcoming Games
12/23/2010 @ New York Rangers – 7:00 PM SUN (HD)
12/26/2010 @ Atlanta Thrashers -7:00 PM SUN (HD)
12/28/2010 vs. Boston Bruins – 7:30 PM TSN2 (HD), VERSUS (HD)
12/30/2010 vs. Montreal Canadiens – 7:30 PM (SUN (HD), RDS (HD)
From now until January 3rd, fans will have the opportunity to cast their votes to pick part of the 2011 NHL All-Star teams via on-line. Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are on the NHL All-Star fan ballot. Click here to send Stammer, Marty and Vinny to the All-Star Game.
Steven Stamkos is currently 4th in the voting at the forward position with 238,680 votes. Martin St. Louis (48,239) and Vincent Lecavalier (14,967) are well off the mark.
All-Star Voting – Latest Release
Sidney Crosby………Pittsburgh 464,832
Jonathan Toews…….Chicago 277,418
Evgeni Malkin……….Pittsburgh 242,851
Steven Stamkos….Tampa Bay 238,680
On A Side-Note
NHL Network U.S. will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. National Junior Team games at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, December 26th to January 5th. The NHL Network also will televise all medal-round games and five additional preliminary-roundmatch-ups, airing a total of 15 games in high-definition from the tournament, and provide nightly re-caps in its signature show “NHL On the Fly.” All USA games will be NHL Network original broadcasts.
Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly were named to Team Canada’s World Junior Championship team.
For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, 2010 NHL All-Star Game, New York Islanders, 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly
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