Gameday Preview: Lightning at Senators

This is the third of five games between the Senators and Lightning this season.

Gameday Preview: Lightning at Senators
Zack Smith #15 of the Ottawa Senators avoids the check of Nate Thompson #44 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 23, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning (31-17-5)
@
Ottawa Senators (23-20-10)
Canadian Tire Centre: 7:30 pm ET
Television: Sportsnet, TVA

Backstory…

This is the third of five games between the Senators and Lightning this season.

Special teams usually plays an integral role in the outcome of games, but through the first two games it has not had the desired effect for the Ottawa Senators.

Despite scoring on three of their eight power plays and successfully killing all six of Tampa’s power play opportunities, the Senators were defeated in the first two meetings, including last week’s 4-3 shootout loss in Tampa Bay.

Through two games, the Senators have outshot the Lightning by a combined total of 70 to 60, but have been outscored by an aggregate score of six to four. (Note: this aggregate score does not include team goals awarded in a shootout win.)

Storylines…

Like seemingly every game for the Senators of late, tonight’s game can be filed into the ‘must win’ category.

Although they have only won twice in their past six games, the Senators currently sit one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot. Unfortunately for Ottawa, there simply is not much separation amongst the teams on the playoff bubble. Four other teams are within two points of Carolina’s coveted playoff spot.

To pick up two points tonight, the Senators will have to do something that they have never done before – beat Ben Bishop.

Since the Senators dealt Bishop at last season’s NHL trade deadline, the goaltender has won all three of his starts versus the Ottawa Senators while compiling a 1.95 goals against average and a .942 save percentage in the process.

Fortunately for the Senators, they have won eight of their last nine home games versus the Lightning – including their current four-game winning streak.

After tallying seven goals in his first eight games this season, Jason Spezza’s production hit a wall. To his credit, he is starting to heat up again with two goals and six points in his last six games. Even though four of those points came on the power play, there’s hope that he can develop some confidence and carry it into his even strength play.

Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators.

From a Tampa Bay and Canadian Olympic team perspective, all eyes are on Steven Stamkos’ impending return from his fractured tibia. Tampa’s injured franchise player has been practicing with the team and was hoping to dress for a game before the Olympic break, but there is no guarantee that it will happen.

Stamkos will not play tonight, but a few of Tampa’s other players have stood out offensively during his absence.

Martin St. Louis just had his 10-game point streak (eight goals, 14 points) end in Toronto on Tuesday and rookie Tyler Johnson has been held pointless only four times in his past 17 games – tallying 8 goals and 16 points during this stretch.

Interesting Stat #1

Ben Bishop has been the biggest difference in the first two games of the series. Despite Ottawa outpossessing the Lightning through the first two games – Ottawa has generated 112 shot attempts to Tampa’s 70 during five-on-five situations – Bishop has been a wall. The enormous goaltender has stopped 54 of the 55 shots on goal that the Senators have had at five-on-five to the tune of a .981 save percentage.

Interesting Stat #2

After scoring a power play goal against the Lightning in their game on Jan. 23 in Tampa, it marked the seventh consecutive game in which the Senators have scored a power play goal against the Lightning.

According to Stats Inc., the Senators have tied the Minnesota Wild (versus Vancouver) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (versus Edmonton) for the longest active streak in the NHL.

Interesting Stat 3

The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently tied with the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets for being the only teams that have eight skaters who have tallied 10 or more goals this season. Every other NHL team has fewer.

Tags:

What do you think? Leave a comment