The Lightning get back to it tonight after Thursday’s thrilling overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Again, they face a team they are battling for playoff positioning with. As the end of the season gets closer and the race gets tighter all these games will continue to get more intense. Tonight is no exception as Atlanta has just one more point in the standings than Tampa Bay.
Antero Niittymaki gets the nod in goal tonight. He has a brilliant 14-0-0 record and a 1.86 goals-against average against the Thrashers in his career, but who’s counting. Also on the goaltending front, Mike Smith continues to progress and he told the media today that he is aiming for a return on Wednesday when the Bolts host the Montreal Canadiens. At this point it is more about comfort than anything else. Once he is comfortable and is in game shape we should see him back on the ice.
Stephane Veilleux will miss the game tonight with a lower body injury. The team has listed him as day-to-day and he shouldn’t miss significant time. Newcomer Nate Thompson is expected to take his spot in the line up. Thompson was claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders on Thursday. Rick Tocchet admitted that he doesn’t know much about him, but Thompson will get some time on the penalty kill and should bring some strength along the wall to the game. Tocchet said he has a great opportunity to earn playing time.
Victor Hedman will return to the ice tonight after spending Thursday’s game in the press box for what Tocchet said was more of a mental break than a physical one.
Tomorrow the Lightning will have the day off, but at night they will be serving as celebrity dealers at the Lightning Foundation’s Glitz and Sticks. The event is being held at the Hyatt Downtown.