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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 20th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (38-24-7) at Ottawa Senators (28-27-13), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to match their longest winning streak of the season on Thursday night as they visit the struggling Ottawa Senators.
The Lightning have followed up a five-game losing streak by winning four straight, including Wednesday's big divisional meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Steven Stamkos notched a natural hat trick in the 5-3 victory, giving him five goals in his last four games. The forward has 19 goals and 30 points in just 24 games this season, having missed time with a broken leg.
Stamkos had a solid homecoming, posting his second hat trick of the season and seventh of his career.
"There might have been a little extra energy coming back home and playing this game in front of family and friends," Stamkos, a native of nearby Markham, Ontario said. "Especially with the magnitude of the game and how tight we are in the playoff race."
Radko Gudas and Tyler Johnson had goals, Ryan Malone and Valtteri Filppula notched two assists each and Ben Bishop came up with 36 saves, including 21 in the third period.
The game did see a scary incident in the final seconds of the first period when Tampa forward Alex Killorn was issued a major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit on Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger.
Ranger was immobilized and removed from the arena on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital for observation, and the Leafs stated later that Ranger was in stable condition, conscious and alert.
"Pretty unfortunate," Killorn said. "Happy that he is OK. I heard through the PR and stuff that he is doing all right now. It's kind of a scary moment, one of those plays where I commit to hit someone without knowing if they are going to turn, so it's just an unfortunate play."
The victory moved the Lightning into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division with 83 points. That is three ahead of the fourth-place Maple Leafs.
While Tampa Bay seeks to match a season-high five-game win streak set from Dec. 15-23, Ottawa will by hoping to avoid going five straight games without a victory for the first time since a 0-3-2 drought from Oct. 25-Nov. 3.
Ottawa is 0-2-2 in its last four games and sits seven points back of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Senators lost their fourth in a row at home with Tuesday's 8-4 setback to the New York Rangers. Both Ottawa goaltenders struggled, with starter Robin Lehner stopping just 23-of-28 shots in his third straight start. Nathan Lawson made 10-of-12 saves in relief during the third period before exiting with an injury and forcing Lehner back into the game.
Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan all had goals for the Senators.
"I think we're generating some offense but, again, we're turning over the puck and putting our goalie in a tough spot and they haven't been able to make the save," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "We have to work to get open, we have to play for one another and we have to find them when they're open."
With No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson still out with a bruised left shoulder and Lawson now day-to-day with a lower-body issue, the Senators recalled netminder Andrew Hammond from the minors.
The Senators lost their first two meetings with the Lightning this season, both in Tampa, before handing the Bolts a fifth straight loss in Ottawa with a 5-3 decision on Jan. 30.
Ryan and Kyle Turris both had a goal and an assist, while Anderson made 35 saves.
Both Bishop and Filppula suffered injuries in that meeting for the Lighting.
03/20 10:54:31 ET