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Lightning vs. Islanders Pre-Game Primer

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

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Timeline of Events

  • 6:00pm - Regular Doors (Terrace Level opens)
  • 7:00pm - Team Warmups Begin (15 minutes)
  • 7:35pm - National Anthem - Ray Horsley on the Organ
  • 7:40pm - Puck Drop

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Line Up For Tonight

Guy Boucher indicated at Thursday's morning skate that both Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt will be in the lineup for tonight's game against the Islanders after both players were healthy scratches in Monday's home-opener versus Florida.

Mathieu Garon will start in goal and make his first home start of the season for the Bolts.

Mattias Ritola and Ryan Shannon will be out. The strategy is part of what Boucher has been referring to as "an experiment" in which he rotates his forwards in order to get different looks at certain players.

"Right now we're getting a lot of looks and experimenting with a lot of different players," Boucher said. "We're trying to find that chemistry and soon this experiment will all be over."

Happy Anniversary

Tonight’s game comes exactly 15 years to the day that the Bolts christened their new home with a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers in the first-ever game played at the St. Pete Times Forum on October 20, 1996.

Milestone Tracker

Steven Stamkos is expected to suit up for his 250th career game tonight. Stamkos comes into the contest versus New York with two goals, two assists and four points on the year, which are good for second on the team behind defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Banged Up

Defenseman Eric Brewer, who experienced some unexpected soreness in his upper body which forced him to sit out at practice on Wednesday, is expected to play tonight against the Islanders.

With Mattias Ohlund already out indefinitely, losing Brewer would be devastating to the Lightning, but all signs as of Thursday’s morning skate seem to suggest he will be in.

“I went to church yesterday and lit some candles,” head coach Guy Boucher. “In fact, I visited a few churches and lit many, many candles.”

Key Notes and Stats

  • Tampa Bay comes into tonight on a season-high five-game losing streak, which is the longest ever under head coach Guy Boucher. Tonight marks the team's fourth game in eight days, while the Islanders, who come into tonight with three straight wins, have had five days off since their last outing.
  • Marc-Andre Bergeron comes in riding a four-game point streak, which is the team's longest by a single player in the short season. He leads all NHL defensemen in points. With two goals, six assists and eight points, Bergeron has the exact same totals in six games this season as he did in all of 23 last season.
  • Brett Clark leads all NHL skaters in blocked shots with 24, while the Lightning lead the league in blocked shots, as a team, with 104.
  • Islanders center John Tavares enters tonight coming off back-to-back four-point games. With an additional four-point game tonight, he would become the first player since current Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman to record four points in each of three consecutive games.
  • Entering tonight's game, the Lightning rank third in the NHL for goals scored, having lit the lamp 18 times through the team's first six games. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins (22) and Philadelphia Flyers (19) have more thus far in 2011-12.
  • Martin St. Louis is expected play in his 479th consecutive game tonight, good for the NHL's fourth-longest active consecutive games played streak. Only Jay Bouwmeester (511), Henrik Sedin (505) and Brad Boyes (497) have played in more consecutive matches than the Bolts forward.

What to Watch For

  • How the Lightning defense responds against the Islanders' top line of John Tavares, PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson: In the first meeting between the clubs on Oct. 13, the line combined for four goals and eight points. Tavares alone had four points in that game against the Bolts and hasn't slowed down since. In the Islanders' very next game against the Rangers, Tavares notched a hat trick and contributed an assist to give back-to-back games with four points in each heading into tonight.
  • Quick Starts: The Islanders certainly had one in the last meeting against Tampa Bay, scoring four goals in the first period and recording 29 shots on goal through the first two frames. Tampa Bay has been outscored 10-5 in the first period this season, but to its credit, has rebounded well coming from behind, as it ranks third in the league with eight goals scored just in the third period.
  • If Tampa Bay plays a more disciplined game: After killing off 22 consecutive opposing power-play chances to start the year, the Lightning have allowed seven power-play goals in their past two games – both against Florida. Tampa Bay took 11 penalties and totaled 33 minutes in penalties in Monday's home-opener, which set a team season-high record up to this point in the short season.

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