NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, November 27th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (10-11-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (15-8-1), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Vincent Lecavalier is set to make his return to Tampa Bay, as his Philadelphia Flyers visit the Lightning for Wednesday's showdown at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Lecavalier was selected by Tampa with the first overall pick of the 1998 draft and he is Tampa Bay's all-time leader in goals (383) and games played (1,037). The former Lightning captain spent his entire career in Tampa before having the remainder of his contract bought out in the offseason.
He then signed a five-year contract with Philadelphia.
"To actually play against the Lightning, I don't know how I'm going to feel but it's definitely going to be a special night and I'm really excited about it," Lecavalier said of his return.
Lecavalier has eight goals this season, tying him for the team lead. He is also third on the club with 13 points over 19 games.
The Lightning, meanwhile, hope to build off a blowout win when they try to continue their recent mastery of the Flyers.
Tampa was on a four-game losing streak before busting out of the slump with Monday's 5-0 rout of the visiting New York Rangers. The Lightning will aim to keep the momentum going when it hosts another Metropolitan Division club in the middle test of a three-game homestand.
The Lightning have won four of five, five of seven and eight of the past 11 meetings against the Flyers overall and Philly has dropped four in a row and five of its last six games in Tampa.
Wednesday's tilt marks the first of three scheduled encounters between the Bolts and Flyers this season.
A return home was apparently just what the Lightning needed in their last trip to the ice. Tampa went 0-3-1 during a four-game road trip before slamming the Rangers on Monday at the Forum. The 5-0 rout represented the sixth straight home win for Tampa, which is 9-2-0 as the host this season compared to a 6-6-1 mark on the road.
Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell each scored twice to support a 37-save performance from Ben Bishop, who recorded his second shutout of the season.
Nikita Kucherov added a goal in his NHL debut, with St. Louis and Purcell each tacking on an assist to help Tampa Bay down the Rangers. Kucherov was a second-round pick (58th overall) by the Lightning at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
"First of all, he's not afraid to shoot the puck," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Kucherov. "And you've got a good chance of scoring when you shoot. That will not be the last goal that kid will score in the NHL."
In addition to playing without superstar centerman Steven Stamkos, who is out indefinitely following surgery to repair a broken right tibia, the Lightning could be without forward Ryan Malone for a second straight game on Wednesday. Malone, who has three goals and six assists this season, is suffering from a bruised foot.
While Tampa Bay tries to win a seventh straight home game tonight, the Flyers will focus on getting back on track after having a three-game winning streak halted Monday night at Florida.
Philadelphia began a stretch of eight road games in nine outings in Sunrise and was handed a 3-1 setback by the Panthers. Tim Thomas was the star for Florida, stopping 38 shots in the winning effort.
Wayne Simmonds scored the lone goal for the Flyers, who had won six of seven coming into the contest. Steve Mason gave up all three goals on 31 shots in the loss.
"We were warned not to take them lightly and we didn't listen," said Mason. "They have a lot of young guys over there who have some jump to their game and they took it to us tonight."
Philadelphia, which will host Winnipeg on Friday before heading out on a six- game road trip, is 4-4-2 as the visiting team this season.
Bishop expects to start tonight for Tampa. He is 0-1-0 in his career against Philly after dropping a 2-1 decision versus the Flyers on March 2 of last season while still a member of the Ottawa Senators.
Mason is 1-1-1 with a 2.31 goals against average in three career starts against Tampa.
11/27 11:05:18 ET