CALGARY, AB -- The Tampa Bay Lightning look to line up home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Lightning clinched their first playoff berth since 2011 on Tuesday when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in a game that showcased a potential first round Eastern Conference matchup. Now that Tampa Bay has secured their spot in the NHL postseason, their next goal is to lock up second in the Atlantic Division and open their series at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
They’ve been a bit of a surprise seeing as they were without perennial Rocket Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos for most of the season and saw captain and longtime player Martin St. Louis shipped to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline in early March. But the team, led by coach Jon Cooper, has managed to hang with the big teams in the Eastern Conference in a season many would have considered a loss.
Tampa Bay is currently sitting tied for second with the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division at 93 points and have six games remaining. They have a record of 22-8-6 at home with five of their final six games coming in Tampa Bay.
This Season: 42-25-9, 93 points (3rd in East)
Last Season: 18-26-4, 40 points (14th in East)
Notable Injuries: Defenceman Mike Kostka (concussion) is out in definitely.
Flames Season Series Record: 0-1-0
Bishop has been on fire for the Lightning. In his past 10 games, he is 8-1-1. The 28-year-old is tied for second in the NHL in wins with 37 and has posted a 2.16 goals against average and a save percentage of .927 in his first complete year in Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-7 goaltender has had his name tossed around as a Vezina Trophy candidate and he has been a big reason to Tampa Bay’s success this season.
Malone has struggled to find his offensive touch he was had, having just two assists since January 23. The Pittsburgh product is on pace for career lows in all stats including goals (5), assists (9), and points (14). In the past 6 games, the 34-year-old is a minus-3 and has averaged 9:10 minutes per game.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Since being acquired in the trade for Martin St. Louis, Callahan has scored six goals and added four assists in his first 14 games in Tampa Bay. The former Rangers captain has been playing on the wing of Steven Stamkos’ line since joining the Lightning. The 29-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has scored 17 goals and 18 assists in 59 games this season split between New York and Tampa Bay.
Palat was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for March, leading all rookies in scoring with 16 points (5g, 11a). The 23-year-old was a point-per-game in March and is second on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 34 assists for 53 points.
Hedman is having his most productive year as a pro, smashing his career-highs with 12 goals, 37 assists and 49 points. The former second overall draft pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft leads the Lightning in ice time with 22:32 minutes per game. He has also added 12 power play points in his career year.