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Penguins vs. Lightning Game Preview

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Lightning Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
45-24-8-98
Home: 24-14-2-50
Road: 21-10-6-48

WHEN: March 31, 2011 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Tampa Bay Lightning
Overall:
41-24-11-93
Home: 23-11-5-51
Road:
18-13-6-42

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning 
 
      
Martin St. Louis
RW  -  #26
  29 Goals
  62 Assists
  91 Points
• Notched two goals in Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win over Ottawa on Tuesday, giving him a total of 16 points (5G-11A) in his last 11 games – seven of those contests being two-point efforts.

• The speedy 5-foot-9, 177-pound winger has 16 goals and 39 points in 40 career games played against the Penguins.

• Has the NHL’s fourth-longest active consecutive games-played streak, as he played in his 467th-straight game for Tampa Bay on Tuesday against Ottawa, and has now recorded back-to-back seasons of 90 or more points.
 
Dominic Moore
C  -  #19
  17 Goals
  13 Assists
  30 Points
• The 30-year-old center tallied twice and added an assist in the Lightning’s 5-2 win over the Senators on Tuesday, giving him five points (4G-1A) in his last four contests.

• Has smashed his previous personal best in goals, as his 17 tallies this season exceed his former career high of 13 set in 2008-09. 

• Played four years of college hockey at Harvard University from 1999-03, arriving in Cambridge the season after Penguins forward Craig Adams graduated (he played there from 1995-99).
 
Vincent Lecavalier
 C -  #4
  20 goals
  27 assists
  47 points
• Is currently riding a five-game point streak that’s seen him tally seven points (2G-5A) over that span, and has 10 points (4G-6A) over his last eight contests.

• Returned to the lineup on Dec. 15 after missing 15 games with a broken hand.

• The Bolts captain, currently centering a line between Nate Thompson and Teddy Purcell, won the “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2007 when he scored a league-leading 52 goals.
While the Bolts have strung together a pair of wins in their last two games with a 4-2 victory over Carolina and a 5-2 defeat of Ottawa, the Tampa Bay Lightning went 2-6-4 in their first 12 games of March.

Tampa Bay went 7-3-2 over an NHL-record 12-game homestand from Jan. 23 to Feb. 25, ending February on a three-game win streak that had them five points ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division race – a position they had been battling the Capitals all season for. But that 2-6-4 skid dropped the Lightning six points behind Washington for the division crown.

So Tampa Bay enters Thursday’s game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind fourth-place Pittsburgh. The Lightning need just one point to clinch their first postseason berth since the 2006-07 season, and it’s a possibility that the Penguins and the Lightning could face each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Lightning are famous for their high-powered offense, with the dynamic duo of center Steven Stamkos and left wing Martin St. Louis leading the charge. They rank second in the league with the most combined points by a pair of teammates with 179 points, and the Bolts linemates have been consistently tearing up the NHL since the start of the season, with St. Louis ranking second (tied) in league scoring with 91 points and Stamkos placing fourth with 88.

But although Stamkos’ 44 goals are tied for the league lead, the 21-year-old center has scored just four times in his last 22 games and once in his last seven contests (with that goal being an empty-netter).

They’ve been struggling defensively, as they’re the only team of the current top eight in the East to have a negative goal differential. They’ve scored 228 goals (third in the conference), but have allowed 230 (11th in the conference).

General manager Steve Yzerman added a veteran netminder to their goaltending rotation to try and provide some stability between the pipes when he acquired Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders on Jan. 1 and later traded the struggling Dan Ellis to Anaheim on Feb. 24. Roloson, 41, has gone 15-11-4 with two shutouts since joining the Lightning.
  • If the Stanley Cup playoffs were to begin today, the Penguins and Lightning would face off against one another as the 4th and 5th seeds in the Eastern Conference, respectively. It would be the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams.
  • Pittsburgh currently holds a 98-93 point advantage over Tampa Bay, although the Lightning have one game in hand. The game against the Lightning is the only contest of Pittsburgh’s final five against a potential playoff team. In addition to the Penguins, Tampa Bay has visits to Chicago April 3 and Buffalo April 5 against potential playoff teams.
  • Pittsburgh is closing in on home-ice advantage through at least the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins’ magic number to clinch home-ice over Tampa Bay is eight. The magic number to stay ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers is two. Buffalo’s loss to Toronto March 29 ensures the Penguins can finish no lower than seventh in the Eastern Conference. With their next two points earned, the Penguins will assure themselves no worse than the fifth seed.
  • This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. After the Lightning defeated the Penguins in Tampa Bay, 5-3, on Oct. 27, Pittsburgh went on to outscore the Bolts by a 13-2 margin in their next two meetings, both at CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins are outscoring the Lightning 8-2 in the first period of games this season.
  • In their most recent meeting on Jan. 5, the Penguins earned a resounding 8-1 victory thanks to a hat trick by Chris Kunitz. Pittsburgh’s eight goals scored against the Lightning that game is the team’s single-game high for 2010-11.
  • Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 15 of 16 shots during the Penguins 5-1 victory on Nov. 12 to become the seventh-youngest netminder in NHL history (25 years, 349 days) to record 150 wins. That victory also began a 15-game unbeaten stretch (14-0-1) for the Penguins.
  • The Penguins enter Thursday’s game having won four straight road games. They have posted an unbeaten 5-0-2 mark in their past seven road contests and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 road games.

 

      
Power up the PK: In the past six games, the Penguins have given up five power-play goals (including a goal just seconds after a Penguins penalty expired). Pittsburgh has one of the best penalty-killing units in the NHL and will need to get it back on track against a team like the Lightning – who doesn’t lack in the skilled sniper department, as Steven Stamkos leads the entire Eastern Conference with 17 power-play goals. The game could come down to the Tampa Bay power play against the Pittsburgh penalty kill, and the Penguins will need to win that special teams battle.

Playoff Mentality:
Thursday’s game isn’t just a regular-season game – it’s a likely prelude to the playoffs, as the Penguins and Lightning currently occupy the fourth and fifth seeds in the conference. With the two teams apparently headed toward a first-round matchup, the Penguins need to bring a playoff mentality to St. Petes Times Forum on Thursday in order to set the tone of what mid-April may be. Tampa Bay will be fighting to catch Pittsburgh in hopes to gain home-ice advantage, while the Penguins need to buckle up for an intense game.
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Dustin Jeffrey, knee (indefinitely)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (day-to-day)
F Ryan Malone, mid body (indefinitely)
Randy Jones, lower body (indefinitely)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Stamkos (44)
A
Letang (41) St. Louis (62)
PTS
Crosby (66) St. Louis (91)
PIM
Cooke (129) Downie (165)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Downie (+6)
PP
Crosby (10) Stamkos (17)
SH
Dupuis/Cooke (3)
Thompson (1)
W/L
Fleury (34-19-5)
Roloson (15-11-4)
GAA
Fleury (2.32) Roloson (2.64)
SVP
Fleury (.918) Roloson (.910)

Tyler Kennedy - Many Penguins have stepped up their game since the lineup was ravaged by injuries, but none have been quite as impactful offensively as Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy has scored three goals in the past five games – including a game-tying goal at Philadelphia on March 24, where he also threw seven pucks to the net – and has eight points (4G-4A) over his past eight contests. He has been on fire since Feb. 2, posting 12 goals and 19 points over his previous 25 games. Kennedy’s 12 goals rank 12th (tied) in the NHL during that span. The tenacious right winger is currently having a career year, as Kennedy has posted personal bests in goals (19), assists (22) and points (41).
 
Simon Gagne - After a slow start to his first season with Tampa Bay which saw him miss 18 games from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30, Gagne seems to be hitting his stride during the final stretch of the regular season. He has 12 points (6G-6A) in his last seven games – including a pair of back-to-back two-goal efforts against Carolina in a home-and-home series on March 25 and 26 – after tallying just once in the 17 contests prior. The 31-year-old forward has 16 goals and 34 points through 57 games, and Gagne also has 19 goals and 41 points in 52 career games played against Pittsburgh.
 
 
 
 

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WHEN: March 31, 2011 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

While the Bolts have strung together a pair of wins in their last two games with a 4-2 victory over Carolina and a 5-2 defeat of Ottawa, the Tampa Bay Lightning went 2-6-4 in their first 12 games of March.

Tampa Bay went 7-3-2 over an NHL-record 12-game homestand from Jan. 23 to Feb. 25, ending February on a three-game win streak that had them five points ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division race – a position they had been battling the Capitals all season for. But that 2-6-4 skid dropped the Lightning six points behind Washington for the division crown.

So Tampa Bay enters Thursday's game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind fourth-place Pittsburgh. The Lightning need just one point to clinch their first postseason berth since the 2006-07 season, and it's a possibility that the Penguins and the Lightning could face each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Lightning are famous for their high-powered offense, with the dynamic duo of center Steven Stamkos and left wing Martin St. Louis leading the charge. They rank second in the league with the most combined points by a pair of teammates with 179 points, and the Bolts linemates have been consistently tearing up the NHL since the start of the season, with St. Louis ranking second (tied) in league scoring with 91 points and Stamkos placing fourth with 88.

But although Stamkos' 44 goals are tied for the league lead, the 21-year-old center has scored just four times in his last 22 games and once in his last seven contests (with that goal being an empty-netter).

They've been struggling defensively, as they're the only team of the current top eight in the East to have a negative goal differential. They've scored 228 goals (third in the conference), but have allowed 230 (11th in the conference).

General manager Steve Yzerman added a veteran netminder to their goaltending rotation to try and provide some stability between the pipes when he acquired Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders on Jan. 1 and later traded the struggling Dan Ellis to Anaheim on Feb. 24. Roloson, 41, has gone 15-11-4 with two shutouts since joining the Lightning.


INTERESTING STATS

* If the Stanley Cup playoffs were to begin today, the Penguins and Lightning would face off against one another as the 4th and 5th seeds in the Eastern Conference, respectively. It would be the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams.

* Pittsburgh currently holds a 98-93 point advantage over Tampa Bay, although the Lightning have one game in hand. The game against the Lightning is the only contest of Pittsburgh's final five against a potential playoff team. In addition to the Penguins, Tampa Bay has visits to Chicago April 3 and Buffalo April 5 against potential playoff teams.

* Pittsburgh is closing in on home-ice advantage through at least the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins' magic number to clinch home-ice over Tampa Bay is eight. The magic number to stay ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers is two. Buffalo's loss to Toronto March 29 ensures the Penguins can finish no lower than seventh in the Eastern Conference. With their next two points earned, the Penguins will assure themselves no worse than the fifth seed.

* This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. After the Lightning defeated the Penguins in Tampa Bay, 5-3, on Oct. 27, Pittsburgh went on to outscore the Bolts by a 13-2 margin in their next two meetings, both at CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins are outscoring the Lightning 8-2 in the first period of games this season.

* In their most recent meeting on Jan. 5, the Penguins earned a resounding 8-1 victory thanks to a hat trick by Chris Kunitz. Pittsburgh's eight goals scored against the Lightning that game is the team's single-game high for 2010-11.

* Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 15 of 16 shots during the Penguins 5-1 victory on Nov. 12 to become the seventh-youngest netminder in NHL history (25 years, 349 days) to record 150 wins. That victory also began a 15-game unbeaten stretch (14-0-1) for the Penguins.

* The Penguins enter Thursday's game having won four straight road games. They have posted an unbeaten 5-0-2 mark in their past seven road contests and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 road games.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Power up the PK: In the past six games, the Penguins have given up five power-play goals (including a goal just seconds after a Penguins penalty expired). Pittsburgh has one of the best penalty-killing units in the NHL and will need to get it back on track against a team like the Lightning – who doesn't lack in the skilled sniper department, as Steven Stamkos leads the entire Eastern Conference with 17 power-play goals. The game could come down to the Tampa Bay power play against the Pittsburgh penalty kill, and the Penguins will need to win that special teams battle.

Playoff Mentality: Thursday's game isn't just a regular-season game – it's a likely prelude to the playoffs, as the Penguins and Lightning currently occupy the fourth and fifth seeds in the conference. With the two teams apparently headed toward a first-round matchup, the Penguins need to bring a playoff mentality to St. Petes Times Forum on Thursday in order to set the tone of what mid-April may be. Tampa Bay will be fighting to catch Pittsburgh in hopes to gain home-ice advantage, while the Penguins need to buckle up for an intense game.


WHO'S HOT

Tyler Kennedy - Many Penguins have stepped up their game since the lineup was ravaged by injuries, but none have been quite as impactful offensively as Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy has scored three goals in the past five games – including a game-tying goal at Philadelphia on March 24, where he also threw seven pucks to the net – and has eight points (4G-4A) over his past eight contests. He has been on fire since Feb. 2, posting 12 goals and 19 points over his previous 25 games. Kennedy's 12 goals rank 12th (tied) in the NHL during that span. The tenacious right winger is currently having a career year, as Kennedy has posted personal bests in goals (19), assists (22) and points (41).

Simon Gagne - After a slow start to his first season with Tampa Bay which saw him miss 18 games from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30, Gagne seems to be hitting his stride during the final stretch of the regular season. He has 12 points (6G-6A) in his last seven games – including a pair of back-to-back two-goal efforts against Carolina in a home-and-home series on March 25 and 26 – after tallying just once in the 17 contests prior. The 31-year-old forward has 16 goals and 34 points through 57 games, and Gagne also has 19 goals and 41 points in 52 career games played against Pittsburgh.



Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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