LIGHTNING (14-17-2) at AVALANCHE (17-17-1)
TV: SUN (HD), ALT (HD)
Tampa Bay 3-7-0; Colorado 6-4-0
This is the only meeting of the season between the Lightning and Avalanche.
While the Avalanche have won three in a row thanks in part to superb goaltending from Jean-Sebastien Giguere
, the Lightning arrive in Denver after a 7-2 loss Wednesday in San Jose.
The good news is that Martin St. Louis
returned to the lineup Wednesday night and had a goal and an assist, but the bad news is it came in a lopsided loss to the Sharks. St. Louis, who was out with an eye injury, wore a visor in his return and said he felt encouraged by how he played.
The rest of the Lightning can't say the same. They were down 5-0 less than 15 minutes into the game. Mathieu Garon
started, but gave up three goals in less than seven minutes and was pulled in favor of Dwayne Roloson
. The move didn't work as Roloson allowed four goals for the fifth time in his last six appearances. He hasn't won since Nov. 17.
"You don't come out (that way) against a Stanley Cup contender that's a big team, a physical team that's first on the puck, a team that's got all the tools with no flaws," Boucher said. "You can't come out and be soft like we were and expect to be positive coming out of it."
Giguere has given the Avalanche quality goaltending at a time when they needed it most. Semyon Varlamov
has struggled of late, with a 4.60 goals-against average in his last four starts, but Giguere has stepped in and has allowed only five goals during the Avs' three-game winning streak.
Colorado has scored only seven goals, but it has been enough to win twice in regulation and once in a shootout. They've had 13 players register a point during the winning streak.
More importantly, all three wins have come at home, where the Avalanche struggled earlier this season. They've won seven in a row at Pepsi Center to improve to 11-9 there this season. The seven straight wins at home matches the team's longest streak since it moved to Colorado in 1995.
"It's been a good sequence, there's no question, and we've done it against quality opponents," coach Joe Sacco said in the Denver Post. "We're starting to build something here at home, and all of a sudden we're a couple of games above .500 here at home. It's positive."
A pair of defensemen are leading the Avalanche in scoring during their current streak. Erik Johnson
has 1 goal and 2 assists while Shane O'Brien
has contributed 3 assists. Cody McLeod
, who didn't have a goal in his first 25 games this season, has 2 goals in the last three games.
The Lightning announced Thursday that forward Ryan Shannon
will miss between two and four weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered Wednesday. Defenseman Matt Gilroy
and forward Nate Thompson
are also day-to-day with lower-body injuries. … Colorado is missing forward David Jones
and defenseman Kyle Quincey
. Both are out with groin injuries.
The Avalanche have won nine straight shootouts. … The Lightning are just 6-12-2 on the road this season.
Friday's game will be the first time cousins Brad Malone
(Colorado) and Ryan Malone
(Tampa Bay) will play against each other in the NHL. Brad, 22, is 10 years younger than Ryan.
"He's probably one of the reasons why I took the path that I chose with hockey," Brad Malone
told ColoradoAvalanche.com. "He was one of my idols growing up. Everything he did I tried to model myself after. To play in a game against him is pretty humbling and it's pretty special."