The Tampa Bay Lightning are in Pittsburgh this morning preparing for tonight’s contest against the Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m., but here are a few early takeaways leading up to the game:
LINEUPS, INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Mathieu Garon will get the start in goal tonight again for the Lightning.
Garon made 24 saves on Saturday at Boston, and has made 62 stops in his past two games combined, and has posted a 2-7-0 record this season with a .911 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average.
Marc-Andre Bergeron, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Brendan Mikkelson are all out for tonight’s game against the Penguins. Adam Hall will be back in.
With the team traveling immediately following tonight’s game and competing in the second half of a back-to-back set tomorrow at New Jersey, there is no word yet on who will start in net Tuesday night versus the Devils, but it would be no surprise if Anders Lindback got the nod.
On the injury front, Ryan Malone will not play tonight in Pittsburgh, nor will Benoit Pouliot, who is still being evaluated by team medical staff and is not expected to play this week.
With that said, expect Alex Killorn to fill a top-six spot, while recent call-up Ondrej Palat will be inserted in Pouliot’s absence. Palat is expected to start on the third line with Nate Thompson and Tom Pyatt.
Sami Salo, meanwhile, will return to the lineup against the Penguins and will play tonight.
For the Penguins, Evgeni Malkin will be back and will also play against the Bolts tonight.
NOTES AND NUMBERS
-Tonight’s game features the league’s top two point getters this season, as Sidney Crosby (1st, 34 Points) faces off with Steven Stamkos (2nd, 32 Points)
-Combined, this game features six players (Lecavalier, Stamkos, Hedman, Crosby, Malkin, Fleury) that were chosen either with the first or second overall pick in their respective NHL Entry Drafts.
-Pittsburgh is the highest scoring team in the NHL this season, recording 76 goals on the year, while Tampa Bay are right behind them in second place with 73 goals scored this season.
-The Penguins boast the league’s third-ranked power play at 26.4 percent, while the Lightning own the NHL’s sixth-best mark at 21.6 percent.
-Pittsburgh has scored the league’s most goals in the first period this season with 25. The Lightning have scored the league’s most goals in the third period this season with 33.
QUOTES TO NOTE
Guy Boucher, on whether the return of Evgeni Malkin changes the Lightning game plan:
“He’s like Rick Nash. He’s one of those guys that makes it happen and manhandles you, and he’s been good against us.”
Guy Boucher, on Ondrej Palat:
“He’s been the most consistent and complete player the past two years down in the AHL on that team. He’s very feisty and his biggest asset is his smarts. He’s always in the right place, he’s reliable defensively and he’s got some offensive abilities.”