The start of the new season for the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t necessarily how it was expected to start, but considering their success last year and the fact that expectations were high beginning the new campaign with five straight losses (2 via the shootout) following an opening day win over the Carolina Hurricanes is mind boggling.
The Lightning though will look to snap their losing streak tonight (Thursday) when they host the New York Islanders (3-1-0; 6 points) who enter the contest having won three straight, including a 5-1 win last Thursday over the Bolts since being shutout in their season opener.
The Bolts (1-3-2; 4 points) losing streak is the longest under Coach Guy Boucher and while many are panicking, Boucher hasn’t reached that point as yet. Instead of panic, it’s execution. Poor play, sloppy play, way too many penalties and numerous other inconsistencies have plagued the team – including that of goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Guy Boucher is not one to make excuses and he doesn’t for the Bolts play.
“We never have things together,” Boucher said. “The power play works one night, and the penalty kill doesn’t the other. We haven’t been able to get it together.”
The biggest downfall of the Bolts right now is their defense and the loss of veteran Mattias Ohlund to an indefinite period of time has proven costly, which is apparent by the play of Roloson. On the season Roloson’s 5.09 goals-against average is the worst in the league and has also surrendered 17 goals in his last three games, which is very uncharacteristic for the 42-year-old netminder whose .858 save percentage ranks 35th among 37 NHL goalies.
The Lightning has been outscored 23-13 during this losing streak and with a very unfamiliar poor statistic hovering over them – the penalty-kill, which has allowed seven power-play goals in 15 opportunities over the same period.
This past Monday night in their 7-4 loss to the Florida Panthers, the Lightning allowed a franchise record-tying five power-play goals, was shorthanded a season-high nine times and committed 11 penalties. Quite the opposite from having killed 22 consecutive power-plays prior to this contest.
“We lost this game on the penalty kill. We took way too many penalties,” Boucher said.
Last season, the Lightning was eighth overall in the NHL on penalty kills, with 49 allowed on 302 attempts.
Tonight’s contest is the first road game for the Islanders and will be looking to extend their winning streak to four games which would equal last year’s longest streak and as well try to pick-up their second in eight days over the Bolts.
This is also the second of four meetings between the two teams, with the Islanders holding a 5-1-0 record in their last six games against the Bolts, including two wins at the St. Pete Times Forum last season.
John Tavares leads the Isles attack and comes into tonight’s game on a tear having scored five goals along with three assists in his last two games, which included a hat-trick on Saturday against the New York Rangers and back-to-back four point games.
Goalie Al Montoya (2-1-0; 1.35) had started the Isles first three games including a 34 save performance in the victory over the Bolts last Thursday, before getting a breather against the Rangers this past Sunday as Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves to earn the win in his Islanders debut.
Mathieu Garon (0-1-1; 2.28) will get the start in goal for the Bolts. Garon stopped all 16 Islander shots he faced last week after replacing Dwayne Roloson. Career wise against the Islanders, Garon holds a 3-0-1 record with a 1.61 GAA and one shutout.
Montoya will get the start for the Islanders. Career against the Lightning Montoya holds a 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and a .959 save percentage in two games.
Lightning Nutz and Boltz
- Vincent Lecavalier (22g-21a-43p in 46 GP) and Martin St. Louis (11g-18a-29p in 39 GP) are the Lightning’s career leaders against the Islanders. Additionally, St. Louis enters tonight’s game with the NHL’s 4th-longest active consecutive games played streak. Tonight marks the 479th consecutive game in which St. Louis will appear
- Marc-Andre Bergeron leads all NHL defensemen with eight points, while also ranking second with two goals and third with six assists
- Dominic Moore is 1 shy of 100 career assists
- Steven Stamkos is expected to appear in his 250th career game tonight
- Brett Clark comes into tonight’s game leading the NHL with 24 blocked shots. The Lightning, as a team, also come in with 104 blocked shots on the season, which leads all teams in the NHL
Lightning: Mattias Ohlund (Knee surgery; IR-out indefinitely)
Islanders: Rick DiPietro (Concussion; out indefinitely), Milan Jurcina (groin; day-to-day), Nino Niederreiter (groin; day-to-day)
The Tampa Bay Lightning and WTOG-TV Channel 44 (CW44) in Tampa Bay are again joining forces to bring Lightning fans three exciting games in high definition on Saturday nights during the 2011-12 season. These games would have otherwise been unavailable in the Tampa Bay market, making this season the first time in franchise history all 82 games will be available on television in the local area.
Entitled “High Voltage Saturday Nights”, these games will augment the team’s previously-announced broadcast schedules on Sun Sports, VERSUS and NHL Network. The broadcast team of play-by-play man Rick Peckham, color analyst Bobby “the Chief” Taylor as well as rinkside reporter, Sun Sports’ Paul Kennedy, remains intact for all games on CW44.
The full High Voltage Saturday Night schedule:
October 29 vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m.
November 9, vs. New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
April 7, 2012, @ Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m.
Sat Oct 22, 2011 – Buffalo Sabres @ Lightning 700 PM SUN(HD)
Tue Oct 25, 2011 – Lightning @ Buffalo Sabres 7:30 PM VERSUS(HD), TSN2
Thu Oct 27, 2011 – Lightning @ Nashville Predators 8:00 PM SUN(HD)
Sat Oct 29, 2011 – Winnipeg Jets @ Lightning 7:00 PM CBC, CW44
For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders
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