SENATORS (28-29-13) at LIGHTNING (39-24-8)
TV: SNET-E, TVA, SUN
Last 10: Ottawa 2-6-2; Tampa Bay 5-2-3
Big story: Tampa Bay will try to extend its lead in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Senators: Ottawa was one of the great stories in the NHL the past two seasons, making the playoffs despite serious injury issues. This season the Senators have been the healthiest group in the NHL by a significant margin. Ottawa had lost 51 man-games as of March 22, according to mangameslost.com, which is 41 fewer than the second-healthiest team (Los Angeles Kings) and 374 less than the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But the Senators have slipped to the fringe of playoff contention in a season when many national pundits expected them to contend for the Stanley Cup. It has been a steady slide for Ottawa. The Senators won on opening night but lost the next four and haven't had a winning percentage of .500 at any point since.
"We're playing for pride. We don't want to embarrass ourselves any more than we already have," captain Jason Spezza told Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun after practice Sunday.
Lightning: Two weeks ago, Tampa Bay was fading fast. Back-to-back shootout losses left the Lightning with 10 defeats in 13 games and in fourth place in the Atlantic. They are 5-0-1 since and boast an eight-game point streak.
The Lightning have passed the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, and have games in hand on each. Tampa Bay has scored at least three goals in all eight games during this 5-0-3 run, and rookie forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are trying to secure an invitation to the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas as Calder Trophy finalists with strong finishes to the season.
Who's hot: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has eight points in a six-game streak. … Palat has 12 points (five goals) and Johnson has seven points (three goals) in the past eight games. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has six goals and nine points in that span.
Injury report: Senators forward Bobby Ryan left the game Saturday after crashing into the end boards and won't play in this game or Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. Forward Mark Stone was recalled and could replace him. Goaltender Craig Anderson (shoulder) is out. … Everyone who has played this season for Tampa Bay is healthy.
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