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Tonight’s game in Buffalo presents a great early-season test for a Lightning team that’s still trying to establish an identity. While the road wasn’t kind to the team last season, kicking things off with a 3-2 win in Toronto Saturday night might have been the start of a new trend. A successful performance tonight against one of the top teams in the league would be even more important for the Lightning.
Olaf Kolzig gets the start tonight (head coach Barry Melrose said he’s planning to go back to Mike Smith Saturday night) and otherwise the lineup is expected to be the same as Saturday. Center Ryan Craig has come off the injured reserve list but will sit out tonight along with Jason Ward and Janne Niskala. Radim Vrbata is currently on IR and is out as well.
Kolzig took his option and didn’t skate this morning at HSBC Arena, so the team brought in a local goaltender, who looked to be in his 40s or 50s, to fill in between the pipes. It was probably a memorable experience for him, facing Vincent Lecavalier
, Martin St. Louis
and Steven Stamkos
in a practice. The workout finished with a shootout against Smith, who held his own as usual. Stamkos did manage to score twice in a row on him though.
Speaking of Stamkos, Melrose said he’s using him on the power play because he wants his right-handed shot out there. While Radim Vrbata could be an option for that role when he’s healthy, Melrose hopes Stamkos takes the job and runs with it.