This Monday match-up will mark the first meeting of the 2015-16 campaign for the Blue Jackets (11-17-3) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (14-13-3).
The Bolts, who are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, are currently sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference and three points back of the final wild card spot. The Lightning come to Columbus on the front-end of back-to-back games, playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday night.
Tampa has scored two or fewer goals in six of its last eight games, and is looking to get points in the upcoming contests to get back into the post-season race, but the team has been riddled with injuries.
Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette and Erik Condra have all suffered from injuries so far this season.
The team also recalled goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy from Syracuse (AHL) on Sunday and reassigned goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.
The Jackets remain without No.1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovksy, who will be out the next two weeks with a lower-body injury. Curtis McElhinney and rookie Joonas Korpisalo are currently manning the nets for Columbus, and with the Blue Jackets facing a back-to-back of their own, could Korpisalo make his NHL debut in one of these two games? It certainly seems possible.
Columbus’ last four home games have gone into overtime, with one of the contests going into a shootout. The Blue Jackets are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, and desperately need to collect as many points as possible in the upcoming weeks.
The previous meeting between these two teams occurred on Jan. 31 in Amalie Arena in Tampa.
The Lightning surged early, scoring the first three goals of the game, and the Blue Jackets never caught up in a 3-1 victory for Tampa.
McElhinney started in net and made 31 saves, certainly doing his part to keep the Blue Jackets hanging around and have a chance to make a rally in the third period.
Ryan Johansen had the lone goal for the Blue Jackets, which he netted with 3:26 left in regulation. The Lightning’s win set a franchise record for its 10th consecutive home ice win.
Despite leading the Lightning in points with 22 (11 G, 11 A), captain Steven Stamkos hasn’t scored a goal in the last eight games - a rare dry spell for the star sniper.
Stamkos is a two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer (2010 and 2012).
Stamkos was the Lightning's first pick at No. 1 overall during the 2008 NHL Draft. The 25-year-old center is in the midst of his eighth career NHL season with the Lightning. Be sure to keep your eye on No. 91 on Monday night at Nationwide Arena, as he’ll certainly be looking to get back to his goal-scoring ways and get the Lightning back on track.