In their last game before the break, the Tampa Bay Lightning (17-15-3) fell to the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. The Lightning had won three of their last four games prior to that defeat, and were hoping to carry positive momentum into the break.
Despite 10 (!) power play chances, the Bolts only scored one goal against Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Tampa Bay previously defeated the Ottawa Senators, 5-2, on Dec. 20 and for both teams, this game will be their first after the NHL's three-day holiday break. The Lightning will then face the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers and the Minnesota Wild at home before heading back out on the road.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella led the Lightning to its only Stanley Cup championship in 2004, but he won't be interested in any of the storylines surrounding his return to an old stomping ground. His focus is on the Blue Jackets and getting them headed in the right direction, and they have to negotiate another back-to-back set this weekend.
The Blue Jackets dropped their last game before the break, a disappointing 5-2 result in Pittsburgh, and now look to get back on track as December winds down. The team dispersed to various cities across North American to spend the holiday time with friends and family, but will all reconvene in Florida for a morning skate on Saturday.
Saturday's game is the third in a six-game home stand for the Lightning. Be sure to follow BlueJackets.com for game day updates, lineup information and more.
The last time these two teams met was earlier in the month — Dec. 14 at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets fell to the Lightning (a 2-1 final) as their offensive problems persisted, failing to generate much in the way of dangerous chances against goaltender Ben Bishop.
The game against the Lightning never really got away from the Jackets, but Columbus was unable to capitalize on its chances and paid the price.
After a scoreless first period, Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring for Tampa Bay just past the midway mark of the second period. The Jackets hung around and got a goal from Brandon Dubinsky, who was fed a pass from Matt Calvert, tying the game before the end of the second.
But Brian Boyle’s shorthanded goal a little over six minutes into the third period was the last goal of the game.
In his NHL debut, rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo certainly did his part with 27 saves, including a few for the highlight reel.
Steven Stamkos is the man to watch in this matchup for more than one reason. Much has been made of his scoring struggles and how they've coincided with a bit of a dip in the team's play, but he still leads the Lightning with 25 points (14 G, 11 A).
The 25-year-old was the first overall pick during the 2008 NHL Draft, and has spent his eight-year NHL career with the Lightning.
In 527 NHL games, he’s scored 290 goals and added 233 assists for a total of 523 career points.