BLUES (23-20-7) at LIGHTNING (32-16-5)
TV: FS-MW (HD)
St. Louis 3-6-1; Tampa Bay 7-3-0
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. Their most recent matchup came on Dec. 18, 2009, when Steven Stamkos
and Jeff Halpern each scored a pair of goals to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-3 win in St. Louis.
The Blues welcomed Andy McDonald
back to their lineup Friday but had to do without No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak
, who suffered an upper-body injury during practice earlier in the week. Ty Conklin started with Ben Bishop
being recalled from the AHL to back him up. It's unknown how long Halak will be out, although coach Davis Payne indicated whatever malady he suffered isn't serious.
Getting McDonald back after a 24-game absence due to a concussion was a huge boost for St. Louis, which entered the All-Star break on an 0-3-1 skid. McDonald assisted on a goal in the Blues' 5-3 win over the Oilers on Friday and played over 18 minutes. TJ Oshie, another key player who recently returned from injury, opened the scoring. Conklin finished with 28 saves.
"Having Andy in the mix helps us a ton," said Brad Boyes, who skates on a line with McDonald and scored a goal against Edmonton. "He was moving, he was getting back into what he does, controlling the puck and making good plays. I think our line played in the offensive zone for the most part, and a couple goals, too."
Hoping to end Washington's three-year run as Southeast Division champion, Tampa Bay had the opportunity to take a seven-point lead with a win Friday, but the Capitals turned the tables and handed them a 5-2 defeat. Teddy Purcell
gave the Lightning the start they were looking for when he scored 3:21 into the first period, but Dwayne Roloson
was victimized for four goals on 35 shots after shutting out the Caps in his first two starts for the Bolts.
"We knew this game was big and we knew they were going to come out hard," Stamkos said. "To be honest, I thought we would be ready to go. They played well and said this was the biggest game of the year for them, so there are no excuses. We just didn't play well."
Who's hot: Alexander Steen
has 4 goals and 10 assists in his last 14 games for the Blues, while Patrik Berglund
has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last eight games. Boyes has 1 goal and 7 assists during a five-game points streak. … Purcell has 4 goals and 5 assists during a four-game points streak for the Lightning. Simon Gagne has 3 goals and 4 assists during a four-game points streak.
In addition to Halak, captain Eric Brewer
missed Friday's game for St. Louis to be with his wife, who was going into labor. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo
(eye) and forwards David Perron
(concussion) and Dave Scatchard (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Tampa Bay defenseman Mike Lundin (groin/abdomen) and forwards Mattias Ritola
(illness) and Ryan Malone
(undisclosed) are day-to-day.
The Lightning have recalled veteran defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron
, who registered 13 goals and 34 points in 60 games for the Canadiens last season. Bergeron is a power-play specialist, with 43 of his 75 career goals (57 percent) coming on the man advantage.
Friday's loss was the first for Tampa Bay on its marathon 12-game homestand that runs almost through the end of February. Its 17-5-2 record at the St. Pete Times Forum ranks among the best home records in the League.