The Tampa Bay Lightning will visit the CONSOL Energy Center tonight in Pittsburgh for what is sure to be a challenging contest against the Penguins.
The Bolts will conclude a back-to-back set tonight, as they earned a 5-2 win last night at Carolina, defeating the Hurricanes to pull into sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division.
Tampa Bay has won three of its past four games, while Pittsburgh has won four of its past five contests.
Here are a few notes from this morning leading up to tonight’s highly anticipated puck drop:
LINEUPS, INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
For the Lightning, Anders Lindback is expected to get the start in net tonight, which comes as no surprise seeing that Mathieu Garon played last night to kick off the front half of the back-to-back set at Carolina.
Keith Aulie, who has missed the past several games due to a stomach bug and who has reportedly lost 10 pounds as a result of the illness, is expected to return to the lineup tonight in Pittsburgh, according to head coach Guy Boucher.
As reported last night following the Lightning’s win against the Hurricanes, Penguins superstar forward Evgeni Malkin will be out tonight against the Bolts as a result of an incident that occurred Friday night against Florida.
Malkin slid hard into the end boards in the team’s most recent game against the Panthers, hitting his head and is continuing to be evaluated.
According to the Penguins’ official web site, head coach Dan Bylsma said a concussion has not been ruled out.
As a result of Malkin’s absence, the team has elevated its centers for tonight’s game, as Sidney Crosby is expected to play alongside James Neal and Chris Kunitz, while Brandon Sutter and Dustin Jeffrey will center the second and third lines, respectively.
NOTES AND NUMBERS
-The Lightning and Penguins are the two highest scoring teams in the NHL, netting 66 and 59 goals, respectively
-Pittsburgh's power play ranks third in the NHL with a 27.4% success rate, while Tampa Bay's power play ranks fifth in the league at 23.2%
-The Lightning haven't allowed a power play goal against in four straight games
-The Bolts are 1-1-0 on the back half of back-to-back games this season
-The Lightning and Penguins have four of the top nine point getters in the NHL this season
-Last season, Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos finished the regular season ranked one and two, respectively, in both points (Malkin - 109; Stamkos - 97) and goals (Stamkos - 60; Malkin - 50).
-Since the 2009-10 season, Sidney Crosby leads all NHL skaters with 1.46 points per game, followed by Evgeni Malkin (1.20) and Steven Stamkos (1.17)
-Similarly, since the 2009-10 season, Steven Stamkos leads all NHL skaters with 0.64 goals per game, followed by Sidney Crosby (0.60), Alex Ovechkin (0.52) and Evgeni Malkin (0.48)
-Since the beginning of last season, only Steven Stamkos (72 goals) and Evgeni Malkin (54) have scored more goals than James Neal, who has 52 in that span
QUOTES TO NOTE
Martin St. Louis, on his personal quest to play better:
“It's easy to think you're playing well, based on some numbers. Do I feel I'm playing well? No, because I know there's more. I'm not down on myself, but I'm trying to be great.”
Guy Boucher, in reaction to St. Louis’ above comments:
“All the top guys are like that. They've got character, they want to be better. Marty sometimes puts too much pressure on himself. It's good, but at the same time, it's okay for him to not always be perfect. He's very honest with his own game, but I think he's doing a lot of good things. I'm not worried about him.”
Mathieu Garon, reacting to Richard Panik’s first career NHL goal Saturday night:
“Panik’s goal to make it 3-1 was big. It was also one of the best first goals I’ve ever seen.’’