Sens return home to face Lightning
Sunday, 12.04.2011 / 8:30 PM
NHL.comLIGHTNING (11-12-2) at SENATORS (12-11-3)
: RDS (HD), SUN (HD), SNET-E
: Tampa Bay 3-7-0; Ottawa 5-3-2.
: This is the first of four meetings. The teams split their regular-season series in 2010-11, with Tampa Bay winning the final matchup 5-2 on March 29 behind two goals each from Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore.
: Both Tampa Bay and Ottawa carry losing streaks into Monday's matchup, and both are on the outside of playoff contention looking in. Ottawa returns to Scotiabank Place on the heels of two 3-2 road losses — to Dallas and Washington, the latter in overtime — and sit ninth in the conference standings through 25 games. Tampa Bay has stumbled badly of late, losing five of seven and three in a row. Recent failures mean the Bolts begin a five-game road swing at 13th in the Eastern Conference and below .500 for the first time all season.
: Though Tampa Bay's losing skid has come at the hands of three of the league's hottest teams — Minnesota, Detroit and New York — Saturday's loss to the Rangers highlighted its struggle to execute for a full 60 minutes. Steve Downie and Tom Pyatt gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead through the second intermission, but the Bolts allowed three unanswered Ranger tallies in the third. It was New York's first win of the season after trailing through two periods, and Tampa Bay's first loss when leading for the same period.
"We played two good periods," said goalie Mathieu Garon, who made 32 saves. "This was a letdown in the third period and it's something that has happened more than once this year. We have to give them credit. They played really well in the third, but for our part, we simply have to play better."
: Despite the two losses — the most recent a 3-2 overtime loss that gave new Washington coach Dale Hunter his first win — the Sens will take some encouraging signs from a stretch that saw them play nine of 10 games in front of opposing fans. Ottawa went 5-3-2 over that stretch — and outscored its opponents 32-31 — but goaltender Craig Anderson
said the Senators need to be even better as they prepare to play 11 of their next 15 games at home.
"We've got some important games that we need to be ready for," Anderson said. "You've got to win your games at home ... We've got to work on some things and make sure we're ready to go on Monday."
: Steven Stamkos is potentially on his way to another Rocket Richard Trophy with 16 goals, including five in the last six games. He's also added three assists over that stretch to give him 27 points for the season. Stamkos shares the NHL goal-scoring lead with Senators forward Milan Michalek
and Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
: Aside from Mattias Ohlund and Scott Jackson, who have been on injured reserve with respective knee surgeries since preseason, Tampa Bay is healthy … Defenceman Filip Kuba
(upper body) won't play tonight, while Peter Regin
(shoulder) has been on IR since October. Defenceman Matt Carkner
has been assigned to Binghamton (AHL) on a conditioning stint.
: Scotiabank Place might not be the best venue for Tampa Bay to turn things around. The Lightning are 4-17-4 in 25 regular-season meetings there, and have scored two goals or fewer in seven straight trips to Ottawa.
: "It was a question of urgency, reliability and sticking with the plan. Tonight it wasn't there, and there's no excuse for that." -- Lightning coach Guy Boucher on his team's struggles against the Rangers