When the going gets tough, the tough get going and for the Tampa bay Lightning just that has happened led by backup netminder Mathieu Garon who will look to lead his teammates to a season high fourth straight win when they face-off against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in Nashville.
After a dismal start, Garon has led the Bolts to consecutive wins over the Islanders and in a home-and-home series against Buffalo (Saturday and Tuesday), which included a shutout on Saturday and upped his record to 3-0-1 with a 1.29 GAA in his last five games.
As well, Garon holds a 1.78 GAA on the year, which ranks seventh among all NHL goaltenders who have appeared in at least three games. Additionally, his .942 save-percentage also ranks seventh in the NHL.
Always going with the hot hand between the pipes and his line combinations, Coach Guy Boucher has elected to stay put with his winning lineup and Mathieu Garon against the Predators despite Garon’s career stats against them. In eight career games against the Predators, Garon is 0-6-2 with a 3.67 GAA.
Tonight’s game will be the only time the two clubs will meet during the season and the first time since last season when the Predators came away with a 4-3 win at the St. Pete Times Forum. Nashville has won the last two meetings after losing four in a row.
The Lightning (4-3-2, 10 pts) enters tonight’s game following their 4-3 comeback win over the Sabres on Tuesday night in Buffalo.
Staked to an early 2-0 lead, on goals from Thomas Vanek Brad Boyes 35 seconds apart in the opening minutes, the Sabres saw their lead evaporate as Vincent Lecavalier and Nate Thompson led the first period charge with goals to tie the score at 2-2 after one.
Steven Stamkos put the Bolts up 3-2 with his 4th goal of the season at the 4:42 mark of the second period and Ryan Malone added an insurance goal at 18:37 of the final period to give the Bolts a 4-2 lead.
Malone’s goal became the eventual winning goal as Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe scored with 33 seconds remaining in the game to end the scoring on the night.
Nashville (3-4-1; 7 pts) comes into tonight’s contest having lost five of their last six after winning each their first two games to open the season, which includes a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
The Predators have scored just nine goals in their last six games, scoring two or fewer in each and not helping matters is that they’ve been outshot in all eight games.
Expected starter between the pipes Pekka Rinne has started all eight contests and comes into tonight’s game with a record of 3-4-1 and a 2.44 GAA. He’s 1-3-1 in his last five contests.
Career wise against the Lightning, Rinne has just one start against the Lightning – December 15, 2009 in which he made 30 saves in a 7-4 win.
Connolly here to stay
Rookie Brett Connolly, who essentially had a nine-game tryout was told following the Buffalo game on Tuesday night that he would be remaining with the Lightning and not return to his junior team.
“We feel Brett’s shown that he belongs in the NHL and makes our team better,” Steve Yzerman wrote in a text message. “So, we’ve decided to keep him.”
Although the top pick of the 2010 draft has yet to net his first NHL goal, he’s been playing on the top two lines and in recent games he’s been moved up to the No. 1 power-play unit. Additionally, he’s tied with Victor Hedman with a plus/minus +5 for the team lead.
Lightning Nutz and Boltz
- The Lightning have five different defensemen who have scored a goal this season, which are the most on any team in the NHL entering tonight…The eight goals scored by the Bolts defensemen are also the most by any team’s blueline corps this season.
- Vincent Lecavalier (3g-2a-5p), Steven Stamkos (3g-1a-4p) each come in riding four-game point streaks.
- Vincent Lecavalier (7g-7a-14p in 15 GP) and Martin St. Louis (3g-8a-11p in 15 GP) are the Lightning’s career leaders against Nashville.
- Marc-Andre Bergeron leads all NHL defensemen with ten points, while also ranking second with two goals and first with eight assists
- Brett Clark comes into tonight’s game leading the NHL with 31 blocked shots. The Lightning, as a team, also come in with 150 blocked shots on the season, which leads all teams in the NHL
Lightning: Mattias Ohlund (Knee surgery; IR-out indefinitely)
Predators: Cal O’Reilly (groin; day-to-day), Martin Erat (upper body; out tonight)
Thu Oct 27, 2011 – Lightning @ Nashville Predators 8:00 PM SUN(HD)
Sat Oct 29, 2011 – Winnipeg Jets @ Lightning 7:00 PM CBC, CW44
Tue Nov 1, 2011 Lightning @ Hurricanes 7:00 PM SUN(HD)
Fri Nov 4, 2011 Blackhawks @ Lightning 7:30 PM NHLN-US, SUN(HD)
Sun Nov 6, 2011 Lightning @ Panthers 5:00 PM SUN(HD)
For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators
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