NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 30th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (31-17-5) at Ottawa Senators (23-20-10), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to halt a four-game losing streak in Canada's capital city, as the Bolts visit the Ottawa Senators for Thursday's battle at Canadian Tire Centre.
Since picking up a 2-1 win in Ottawa on Jan. 8, 2011, the Lightning are 0-3-1 on the road in this series and have lost three straight in regulation. The Senators also have claimed eight of the last nine encounters on home ice, but Tampa has won three straight overall in the series, including the first two of five scheduled encounters in 2013-14.
Thursday's test also marks Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop's return to Ottawa. Bishop was traded from the Sens to Tampa for forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick at last season's deadline and the 27-year-old netminder is having a Vezina-caliber campaign in first season with the Bolts.
Bishop is 26-7-4 with a 1.99 goals against average, .933 save percentage and four shutouts this season, while Conacher has four goals and 13 assists through 51 games with the Sens in 2013-14.
The Lightning and Sens played just last week in Tampa and the Bolts recorded a 4-3 shootout win. Ottawa forced overtime in last Thursday's tilt thanks to a Chris Neil goal with 2:18 left in the third, but Nikita Kucherov scored the lone goal of the shootout to lift Tampa to victory. Bishop made 33 saves for the win and stopped all three Ottawa skaters in the shootout phase. The American goalie is 3-0 lifetime against the Sens and 2-0 this season.
Tampa Bay has gone 1-1-0 since last week's win over the Sens, beating a visiting Colorado club by a 5-2 score on Saturday before dropping Tuesday's 3-2 decision in Toronto. The Lightning were tied with the Maple Leafs late in regulation, but James van Riemsdyk recorded the tie-breaking goal with 4:03 left to deliver the win for the home team.
The Bolts trailed 2-0 on Tuesday before scoring twice late in the second period to even the score. Matt Carle and Mark Barberio had the goals for Tampa, with Ondrej Palat assisting on both scores. Bishop finished with 23 saves as the Lightning had a three-game winning streak halted.
Less than a minute after van Riemsdyk scored the go-ahead goal Tampa Bay netminder Jonathan Bernier made the lead stand with a sprawling glove save on Martin St. Louis.
"You have to give it up to their goaltender, especially with the save on Marty (St. Louis) at the end," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.
The Lightning, who are four points behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division, fell to 15-11-2 on the road this season after Tuesday's loss and the club is playing the second part of a four-game road trip tonight. Tampa will visit Montreal on Saturday before capping the swing Tuesday in Minnesota.
The Senators also played on Tuesday when they snapped a two-game slide with a 3-2 regulation win at Columbus. Jason Spezza scored the game-winner with just under five minutes to play, propelling Ottawa to the close victory at Nationwide Arena.
James Wisniewski's power-play goal 7:16 into the third period tied the game at 2-2 for Columbus. However, Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton went off for tripping at 13:08 and Spezza pounded a loose puck into the back of the net amid a scrum in front for the deciding goal with just six seconds left on the Horton minor.
Stephane Da Costa scored his first two goals of the season to account for Ottawa's other offense, while Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots to help the Sens wrap up a four-game road trip at 2-1-1.
Ottawa is home for just one game before heading back out on a three-game road trip beginning with Saturday's test in Toronto. The Sens are 11-11-5 as the home team this season compared to a 12-9-5 mark on the road.
Senators defenseman Chris Phillips missed the last game with an undisclosed injury and he is questionable for Thursday's tilt.
Ottawa is currently one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and locked in a three-way tie with Columbus and Washington, who play each other on Thursday. Carolina and Detroit are currently tied for the eighth and final postseason berth and both clubs are idle on Thursday.
Anderson expects to get the call for Ottawa tonight. He is 6-2-3 with a 1.56 GAA in 12 career outings against the Lightning.
01/30 10:51:27 ET