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Injury-plagued Lightning set to host Senators

by Corey Masisak /

SENATORS (11-13-4) at LIGHTNING (16-10-1)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-6-0; Tampa Bay 4-5-1

Season series: This is the first of five meetings. The Ottawa Senators have won seven of the past 10 games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and one team has scored at least four goals in seven of the past eight.

Big story: Tampa Bay continues to try and hold onto its place in the top three of the Atlantic Division, while disappointing Ottawa tries to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoff picture in a key divisional matchup.

Team scope:

Senators: The team once called the "Pesky Sens" because of its ability to scrap for points as a wounded underdog has not found life among the healthy favorites to be so great. There were increased expectations after a season that saw five key players (Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson, Milan Michalek and Jared Cowan) miss half of the season or more yet still reach the second round of the playoffs has not lived up to them yet.

Thirteen skaters have played all or all but one game this season, but goal prevention has been a mess. The Senators are yielding 3.18 goals per contest, 26th-best in the League after being a strong defensive club in Paul MacLean's first two seasons.

Lightning: Is it possible Tampa Bay has assumed the pesky role? The Lightning have a rash of players injured, including all-world scorer Steven Stamkos, top-six wing Ryan Malone and rugged defenseman Radko Gudas, though Gudas could return this weekend.

The Lightning are 4-5-1 since Stamkos was lost to a broken leg (4-6-1 if the game he was injured in is included). Tampa Bay has struggled to consistently score without him. In six of the past 11 games, the Lightning have scored one goal or less, but they've has also put five past the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers and four in against the Philadelphia Flyers during that span.

The schedule could offer a break while they wait for Stamkos. None of the next 21 games are against teams currently in the top 10 in the League standings and only four are against teams in the top 16.

Who's hot: Bobby Ryan has four goals and six points in the past six games for the Senators. … The Lightning have allowed seven goals in the past five games, and Ben Bishop has stopped 124 of 128 shots in his four starts during that span.

Injury report: The Senators are healthy. … Stamkos (leg), Malone (ankle), forward Tom Pyatt (collarbone) and defensemen Brian Lee (knee) and Keith Aulie (upper body) are on injured reserve. Gudas (upper body) is considered doubtful against the Senators, but possible for the weekend.

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