The Lightning arrived in South Florida yesterday around 3 p.m. after a practice in Brandon before the flight. Tonight the Bolts will try and rebound from Thursday's heartbreaking loss that saw the Panthers come from behind in the third period to win the game 3-2. It was just the second time this season Tampa Bay lost when trailing after two periods. Tonight's game is the perfect opportunity for the Lightning to make amends for the loss in the first part of this home-and-home series.
Trying to return the favor tonight will be the exact same line up with Antero Niittymaki in net. Todd Fedoruk has been cleared to play and has come off the IR but according to Rick Tocchet still needs some "hard skates" to be ready to go. In order to make room for Fedoruk, the Lightning placed Matt Smaby on the IR retroactive to January 9. He is eligible to come off tomorrow.
In talking about Thursday's contest, Tocchet said he felt the team did everything right in preparation for the game and he said that the result was "unacceptable". He also stressed the importance of the Lightning separating themselves from the log jam that is the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Brandon Bochenski received some praise from Tocchet today as the coach said he's going to stick with the forward for the time being. Tocchet said Bochenski has done everything: played well defensively, been good on the fore-check, all while putting up some points. Tocchet said as long as he continues to play a well-rounded game he should be around for a while.
After the game tonight the team will fly to Raleigh where they have a practice scheduled at the RBC Center on Sunday in preparation for Monday's game against the Hurricanes.