NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, March 4th
(All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (9-11-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-0), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher criticized his
team's offensive-first style following a fourth straight loss over the
weekend, a habit he would like his team to break.
But Monday night may not be the best time for the Lightning to go into a
defensive shell as they'll need to keep pace with the high-scoring Pittsburgh
Penguins, who are slated to have forward Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup.
Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 3.48 goals per game, but has gone just 3-10-1
since winning six of seven to begin the season. Part of the reason is the fact
that the Lightning are giving up 3.14 goals per game.
Pittsburgh is second to only Tampa in goals per game at 3.46, but has been
slightly better on the defensive side of things by yielding just under three
goals per outing. That has helped the Pens grab first place in the Atlantic
Division by three points over the New Jersey Devils.
Boucher was upset with his club following Saturday's 3-2 loss in Boston, where
the Lightning scored a pair of first-period goals, but gave up the lead by the
end of the second and then saw the Bruins score the go-ahead goal on the power
play in the third period.
What had Boucher heated was that Boston scored the winner after Steven Stamkos
missed the net on a short-handed try to set up the Bruins' rush.
"It's coming down to the same thing that has been going on here for years.
What we're trying to break is that offense-first mentality of gamble that we
have to get rid of," said Boucher. "It's the same story since the beginning of
the year, it was there before and it's still there. We've got to break that."
Stamkos' confidence may have gotten the best of him after he scored his
league-leading 15th goal of the season earlier in the game. He now has eight
goals and 15 points over a nine-game point streak, the longest active run in
Alexander Killorn also tallied and Teddy Purcell assisted on both goals, while
Mathieu Garon posted 24 saves in Tampa's fourth straight loss. That includes
defeats in the first two of a four-game swing and the Bolts sit at just 3-7-0
on the road this season.
The Bolts will certainly face a challenge in improving on that road mark with
Malkin set to return for the Penguins following a four-game absence because of
a concussion suffered versus the Florida Panthers on Feb. 22, when he crashed
into the boards following a clean hit.
In 18 games this season entering Monday's play, last year's Hart Trophy winner
as league MVP has four goals and 17 assists.
Malkin should provide a lift as the Pens return home after salvaging the
finale of a three-game swing on Saturday. Following defeats in Florida and
Carolina, Pittsburgh survived a high-scoring 7-6 test with the Montreal
Canadiens that needed overtime.
Brandon Sutter's second goal of the game came 52 seconds into the extra frame
and both Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke scored twice. Sidney Crosby added a goal
and two assists, Kris Letang assisted on four goals and Tomas Vokoun made 33
"The mistakes we made, we didn't let it pressure us. We just kept coming at
them," Crosby said.
Crosby recorded his seventh three-point game of the season and has tallied
nine points in his last four games. He is tops in the NHL with 24 assists and
34 points, two more points than Stamkos.
Kunitz, meanwhile, is riding a career high-tying five-game point streak,
having totaled five goals and three assists during the run.
Pittsburgh played without defenseman Paul Martin on Saturday due to a lower
body injury. He is day-to-day but is not expected to play tonight.
The Lightning are slated to get defenseman Sami Salo for the first time in
three games because of a lower body injury and forward Ryan Malone is getting
close to returning from a lower body issue of his own. However, Benoit Pouliot
is out with a right shoulder injury and the club recalled winger Ondrej Palat
from the AHL on Sunday.
The Penguins have won four straight over the Lightning and each of the past
five meetings in Pittsburgh. They have outscored Tampa Bay 30-8 in those home
outings, including a pair of 8-1 wins.
The Pens recorded a 5-3 home win over the Lightning on Feb. 24 as Crosby
scored twice and added an assist.
Stamkos also scored and had two assists.
03/04 13:25:02 ET