The Lightning continues their roadtrip tonight with a stop at Madison Square Garden to face-off against the New York Rangers in their second meeting of four on the season. These two teams met on November 24th at the St. Pete Times Forum with the Lightning coming out on top 5-3.
The Bolts last season were 0-2-0 at the Garden and outscored 19-9 in those games of which one was an 8-2 pounding last January and have lost five consecutive games – since 2006-07 the Bolts are 1-7 at the Garden. The Rangers lifetime is 37-28-5-3 against the Bolts and holds a 21-12-2-2 record at MSG.
Two advantages that the Lightning has this season… they own a 5-1-2 record against teams from the Atlantic Division, while the BlueShirts are 2-4-0. As well, the Bolts are ranked 7th on the road with a 9-8-2 (20 points) record and the Rangers rank 23rd at home with an 8-8-1 (17 points) record. The Lightning has also won four of their last five games and is 6-2-2 in their last 10.
The Lightning (19-10-5) enter the game following an 2-1 overtime loss on Wednesday night to the New York Islanders on Long Island. Despite outshooting the Islanders in the first period 16-3 and staked to a 1-0 lead on Ryan Malone’s 10th goal of the season the Lightning fell victim to a John Tavares rebound goal at 3:23 of OT to give the Islanders the win.
Tonight is the 2nd half of the Bolts eighth back-to-back set in which they’ve gone 4-2-1 in the final game on consecutive nights. They’ve also erupted for 25 goals, 9 of them on the power-play (9-for-42; 21.4 %) and have a solid penalty-kill at 90.6 percent (29-for-32)
Currently tied for second place in the Southeast Division with the Atlanta Thrashers a Lightning win coupled with losses by Atlanta and Washington the Lightning would earn sole possession of first place in the division and a win would also give the Lightning their 20th, a franchise best in just 35 games played.
The Rangers (20-14-1) tonight will be playing their only game over a span of eight days. They last played on Saturday (December 18th) in Philadelphia where they went down in defeat 4-1.
Nikolay Zherdev’s two goal night led the way for the Flyers. Andreas Nodl gave the Flyers a two-goal lead early in the third before Derek Stepan lit the lamp for the Rangers to cut the Flyers lead in half, but the Flyers responded with two more tallies.
Despite having not played since Saturday and being well rested, the Rangers will need to play hard as the Bolts will like nothing more than to avenge their Wednesday night loss to the Islanders. As well, the Rangers, one of the league’s most penalized teams (27th; 552 min) must keep the 7th best road power-play (20.7) team in league off the board.
The Rangers will likely call on Henrik Lundqvist to man the pipes, even though he’s started 11 of the past 13 games. Lundqvist is 13-6-2 with a 2.08 goals against average and two shutouts in 21 career games versus the Lightning and backup Martin Biron is 10-7-2-0 with a 2.66 goals against average in 19 career contests, also against the Bolts.
Dan Ellis will be between the pipes for the Bolts, making his second consecutive start. Ellis is 1-1-0 with a 2.54 GAA in two appearances against the BlueShirts.
Lightning Nutz and Boltz
- Steven Stamkos has three points in as many games
- Martin St. Louis has six points in his last three games and has 15 goals and 34 points in 34 career games against the Rangers
- Simon Gagne has 24 goals in 52 games against the Rangers, his most against any opponent
Tampa Bay is 4-2-1 in the second half of back-to-back games
Tampa Bay has allowed a league-high seven short-handed goals
- Chris Drury has recorded a team-high 12 goals and 20 points in 30 career games vs. Tampa Bay
- Michal Rozsival leads the Rangers with 13 assists in 31 career contests vs. the Lightning
- Dan Girardi had a league-best 102 blocked shots
- Mats Zuccarello has been recalled from the Connecticut Whale… he will make his NHL debut on the blueline
The Rangers lead the league with eight short-handed goals.
New York has scored a power-play goal in six consecutive games.
Lightning: Steve Downie (Ankle sprain; IR), Mike Smith (Knee injury, IR)
Rangers: Vinny Prospal (Knee; IR), Derek Boogard (Right shoulder strain; day-to-day), Ryan Callahan (Broken hand; IR), Marian Gaborik (Groin strain; day-to-day) and Michael Del Zotto (Flu; out)
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.
Lightning Upcoming Games
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.
For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, 2010 NHL All-Star Game, New York Rangers, 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly
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