NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 18th
(All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (11-14-9) at St. Louis Blues (14-13-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Lightning and the Blues have both struggled scoring
goals this season, so it's no surprise that the clubs are near the bottom of
their respective conferences.
Tampa Bay, losers of six in a row, visits a St. Louis club tonight at
Scottrade Center that has lost four of its last five at home.
Both the Lightning and the Blues are coming off shutout losses, not surprising
considering that they are the two bottom teams in scoring. St. Louis is last
with just an average of 2.34 goals per game, while the Lightning are slightly
ahead at 2.35 GPG.
St. Louis is tied for 14th in the West with 33 points, while Tampa Bay is tied
for 13th in the Eastern Conference with 31.
The Lightning were in action last night, as they visited Detroit and were
handed a 3-0 setback. Tampa Bay failed to get any of its 30 shots by Red Wings
goaltender Jimmy Howard while going 0-for-5 on the power play.
Mike Smith gave up three goals on just 22 shots for Tampa Bay, which has lost
10 of its last 11 and is on its longest losing streak since ending last season
with nine consecutive losses.
"It's beyond embarrassing. Frustrations are setting in [and] it's affecting
the way we're playing," Smith said of the six-game losing streak in which the
Lightning have scored only seven times and have been shut out three times.
Tampa Bay has been blanked twice in its last three games and played last night
without Victor Hedman (foot) and Steve Downie (head).
The Lightning have lost seven straight on the road, including the first four
contests of a six-game swing, and are just 4-10-5 as the guest.
The Blues haven't been much better at home, where they are just 6-10-2 on the
season. They were on the road Wednesday night, losing in Chicago by a 3-0
margin. The Blackhawks' Cristobal Huet made 27 saves to blank the Blues.
Ty Conklin made 32 stops in defeat for the Blues, who have dropped three of
five overall. They have scored just eight goals -- seven of those in two games
and have been blanked twice in that span.
"[The Blackhawks] are a good team, there's no question about it. They play
fast, they play together, support the puck and make plays together," said
Blues forward David Backes.
Keith Tkachuk could return to the lineup tonight after sitting out Tuesday's
loss to Calgary with a lower-body injury.
The Blues notched a 4-3 overtime win in Tampa in the lone meeting between the
teams last year, while the Lightning posted a 5-4 triumph on February 5, 2008
when the clubs last met in St. Louis. The victory halted a 10-game series road
losing streak for Tampa Bay.
12/18 10:47:08 ET