The Lightning got to their hotel in New York City last night just after 12:30 a.m. following their 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a much-needed two points for the Bolts as they battle for playoff positioning. After falling in consecutive games to the Florida Panthers Thursday and Saturday the Lightning needed the points and woke up today still just four points out of the eighth position in the Eastern Conference.
Today the team had a meal at the hotel and rested up for tonight’s game against the Rangers. It is the Bolts’ first trip to Madison Square Garden this season and they are coming off a 5-1 home win against the Blue Shirts on November 27.
The Lightning line up will remain the same tonight as last night’s win against Carolina. Antero Niittymaki makes his fourth consecutive start. Niittymaki and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist faced each other at the 2006 Gold Medal Game at the Winter Olympics, a game Sweden won, 3-2.
In other goaltender news Mike Smith skated yesterday and today in Tampa. Should the team practice tomorrow he is expected to be on the ice.
Tonight’s game is on Versus with Rick Peckham providing the play-by-play so at least there will be some local flavor to the national broadcast.