Bolts to finish road trip in Pittsburgh
Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 11:23 PMLIGHTNING (24-24-6) at PENGUINS (31-19-5)
: RDSI (HD), SUN (HD), ROOT (HD)
: Tampa Bay 7-1-2; Pittsburgh 7-2-1.
: This is the third of four meetings and the first at Consol Energy Center. Tampa Bay won the first in November – extending a run of four straight dating back to the 2010-11 Eastern Conference quarterfinal – but Pittsburgh scored a 6-3 win in the team's last meeting on Jan. 15.
: Two teams playing the latter half of a back-to-back will look to build off their Saturday victories. Pittsburgh dominated Winnipeg in an 8-5 home victory Saturday afternoon, while Tampa Bay got back to winning ways in the middle of a three-game road trip with a 2-1 win in Buffalo.
: Tampa Bay will finish a three-game road trip when it visits the Consol Energy Center. So far, the Bolts have three points through two games against the New York Rangers and Sabres, respectively. While they're feeling good about their mini road trip, finishing it off in winning fashion will be the challenge, especially as they will play against the Penguins the afternoon following their big win against Buffalo. Awaiting the Lightning after their road trip will be a four-game homestand, in which they'd like to skate into with momentum on their side, as they aim to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
: If Pittsburgh hopes to reach the playoffs once again, it will likely be on the back of their top line of Chris Kunitz
, Evgeni Malkin
and James Neal
. Since Dec. 10, the trio has combined for 41 of Pittsburgh's 79 goals in 26 games. The line once again led the charge Saturday, totaling three goals and eight assists. Malkin, who leads the League in points, scored a goal and added four assists to up his total to 67.
"Today we talked before the game, we just wanted to just move the puck," Malkin said. "We felt great, everyone. Just moving the puck, it's easy (to) play. (When you get) more offensive zone (time), you can skate and shoot the puck."
made an immediate impact in his first game since Jan. 6. The center scored a goal and an assist to add another dimension to Pittsburgh's offense.
: Tampa Bay might be floundering far outside the playoff picture, but Steven Stamkos
is threatening his best season yet. Stamkos scored another Saturday – his fourth in four games – to bring his League-leading total to 37. He also had an assist, his third in four games.
: Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone
(upper body) is on injured reserve. Dana Tyrell
will miss the remainder of the season with right knee surgery. … For Pittsburgh, Tyler Kennedy
(high ankle sprain) will miss 4-6 weeks, while Arron Asham
(concussion), Simon Despres
(lower body) and Sidney Crosby
(concussion/soft tissue damage in neck) are all on injured reserve.
: The game will feature the top two goal scorers and point producers, as Malkin will take on Stamkos. Malkin leads Stamkos in points, 67-62, while Stamkos has the edge over Malkin in goals, 37-30.
: While the Penguins scored eight goals, they also conceded five goals to a Winnipeg team that hadn’t scored more than two in eight straight games.
"We needed some secondary scoring; we got some," said Dustin Jeffery, who scored Pittsburgh's first goal off a feed from Staal. "(Malkin) played unbelievable. But we can't let up that many goals, especially against a good team. They're not going to let us score eight goals a game."