NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 8th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (11-14-2) at New York Rangers (15-6-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers snapped a four-game slide to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. If they want to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since late November, they'll need to do it again.
The Blueshirts look to rebound and hand the Bolts a season-high sixth straight loss this evening at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers got two-point games from Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov in a 4-2 win over the host Lightning last weekend in the first meeting between the clubs after Tampa Bay swept the four-game season series a year ago.
The victory was New York's fifth in a row, but that run came to an end on Monday in a 4-2 setback to Toronto. Anisimov and Marian Gaborik had the goals and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves as the Rangers saw their seven-game home winning streak halted as well.
New York dropped to 7-2-1 as the host despite Richards pushing his point streak to six straight games. A former Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Lightning when they won their 2004 Stanley Cup, Richards has four goals and six assists over his points streak.
"I thought early we had a tough time keeping up with them," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who coached the Lightning to that Stanley Cup title. "As the game went on I thought we got back into it, but we couldn't come back all the way."
The Blueshirts also lost Michael Sauer to a concussion that has him day-to- day. He will not play tonight versus the Lightning, who are aiming for a third straight road win over the Rangers though they have still lost six of their last nine at MSG.
Tampa Bay will try to get on the right track after matching its longest losing streak of the season on Tuesday with a 5-1 setback to the New York Islanders. The Lightning endured an 0-3-2 skid from Oct. 8-17, but Tuesday's defeat was their fifth in a row in regulation.
Martin St. Louis scored the game's first goal versus the Islanders at 6:55 of the opening period, but Tampa Bay would not light the lamp again. Mathieu Garon gave up five goals on 34 shots.
"It's tough," said St. Louis, who notched his 800th career point. "You've got a down spiral like this; we're a fragile team right now. We were fine, got the goal, going good and then they scored and we just collapsed."
Steven Stamkos had an assist to push his point streak to eight games. He has five goals and six assists in that span, which is the longest point streak by an NHL player so far this season.
Tampa Bay hasn't lost six in a row since Dec. 7-17, 2009 and will also be looking to avoid a fifth straight road defeat this evening. The Lightning play the third of four in a row on the road and are a mere 4-10-2 as the guest this season.
Nate Thompson suffered an upper-body injury versus the Islanders and is questionable for tonight, while Pavel Kubina is doubtful because of a lower- body issue.
12/08 10:59:09 ET