LIGHTNING (6-2-1) at COYOTES (3-3-3)
TV -- SUN (HD)
Season Series -- This is the first of two meeting between the Lightning and the Coyotes. The two clubs split last season's matchups, a 4-1 win for Tampa Bay on Nov. 16 and a 2-1 victory for Phoenix on March 16. Vincent Lecavalier had 2 goals and 1 assist in the November game, while Vernon Fiddler and Matthew Lombardi scored in the March edition.
Big Story -- The two 2010 Rocket Richard Trophy winners, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, took each other on Wednesday night and it was Martin St. Louis and the Lightning that came away as the big winners. Tampa had a huge come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Pens. The Bolts are second in the Eastern Conference and lead the Southeast Division by one point over the Capitals.
Lightning -- Pittsburgh was up 3-1 early in the first period and things were looking grim for Tampa. Mike Smith had allowed three goals on 11 shots before he was replaced by Dan Ellis. Teddy Purcell scored at the end of the first and Lecavalier converted on a 5-on-3 power play to tie things up. St. Louis scored the game-winner early in the third and sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
Ellis stopped all 24 shots he faced and Dana Tyrell, who opened the scoring in the first, notched his first NHL goal.
"You throw him in there and he gives you a chance to get back in it," St. Louis said of Ellis' performance. "That's great. When we were there, we just had to keep pushing because we battled back. We never feel like we are out of a game. Tonight was an exciting game and I’m sure that it was an exciting game for the fans too.”
Coyotes -- The Coyotes hadn't had a win in three games when they arrived in Detroit and by the end of the first period they had a three-goal lead en route to a 4-2 victory. Radim Vrbata, Keith Yandle on the power play and Lauri Korpikoski, shorthanded, provided the first-period goals, while Korpikoski added an empty netter in the third.
"That first period is probably as good a period as we've played this year, other than the penalties," said coach Dave Tippett, whose Coyotes had three penalties in the first. "We just did a lot of things how we want to play."
But it was Ilya Bryzgalov who was the real star of the night. The Phoenix goaltender made 43 saves, 17 in each of the second and third periods, and handed the Wings their first home regulation loss.
"He gives us a chance to win every time he's in there," Tippett said of his goaltender. "When you look at our top players and their production so far, it hasn't been very good. The margin for error is pretty slim, and he makes sure that margin for error stays close. He's been the one constant."
Who's hot -- While Stamkos didn't score on Wednesday, he contributed with 3 assists and leads the NHL with 18 points. His linemate, St. Louis, has points in all but one game this season with 5 goals and 7 assists.
For the Coyotes, defenseman Adrian Aucoin is in five-way tie for second in the league for plus-minus with a plus-8. Bryzgalov has just one regulation loss in his seven starts, while defenseman Ed Jovanovski and center Eric Belanger lead the Coyotes with 6 points each.
Injury Report -- Phoenix center Martin Hanzal is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. … Tampa Bay left wing Simon Gagne (neck) is on the injured reserve, while center Dominic Moore (groin) and defenseman Matt Smaby (stomach virus) are questionable for Saturday.
Stat Pack -- In the Coyotes' and the Lightning's most recent matchup on March 16, the teams happened to have an identical number of shots on goal with 28.
Puck drop -- "My two players of the game were Marty and Vinny. The 'inferno duo' has done it again, like it has done so many times in the past. In moments like this, you look at your leadership and they were there." -- Guy Boucher after the Lightning's win on Wednesday.