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After loss to Isles, Bolts head to MSG

by Brian Compton /
LIGHTNING (19-10-5) at RANGERS (20-14-1)

TV: Sunshine Network; MSG.

Last 10: Tampa Bay 6-2-2; New York 6-4-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Lightning defeated the Rangers by a 5-3 score on Nov. 24 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists for the Bolts.

Big Story: With Marian Gaborik sidelined by a groin injury, the Rangers are going to give young Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello a look on Thursday night. Zuccarello, 23, tallied 22 points in his last 20 games in the American Hockey League.

"I want to get him in some offensive situations," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I have to figure out some lines and where to put him, so as the game goes on we'll see how it all works out."

Team Scope:

Lightning: Ryan Malone scored during a first period that saw the Bolts outshoot the New York Islanders 16-3, but Tampa Bay went 1-for-5 on the power play and ended up dropping a 2-1 overtime decision at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night. Tampa Bay enters Thursday's action just one point behind the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division lead.

"We have a goal before Christmas, and that's to be first in our division," Stamkos told "We got a point tonight. We're playing well as of late. We've just got to forget about this one, take our point and hopefully get a win tomorrow night." 

Rangers: New York will be looking to bounce back after it suffered a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. Three of the Flyers' goals were scored during the third period.

"In spurts we were very, very good, then we would go dull for a little bit," said forward Derek Stepan, who had the Blueshirts' only goal. "In those spurts where we were dull, we needed to take better care of the puck."

Who's Hot: With his goal on Wednesday night, Malone now has points in 10 of his last 11 games. … Rangers forward Alex Frolov has points in each of his last four contests, while Stepan had 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in his last 19 games.

Injury Report: Lightning forward Steve Downie is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, while goalie Mike Smith is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained knee. … Besides Gaborik, the Rangers will be without Ryan Callahan (broken hand) and Vinny Prospal (knee). Derek Boogaard is day-to-day with a strained shoulder. Michael Del Zotto is questionable with the flu.

Stat Pack: Tampa Bay is 5-1-1 against Atlantic Division teams this season. … Rangers captain Chris Drury has recorded a team-high 12 goals and 20 points in 30 career games against the Lightning.

Puck Drop: "We knew going in it was going to be a tight game. We were prepared for that. We definitely should've taken advantage of all those power plays in the first and second. Getting at least two would've been nice." -- Lightning forward Ryan Malone on Wednesday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders

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