LIGHTNING (13-16-1) at SENATORS (16-9-6)
TV: SUN, SNET-E, TVA
Last 10: Tampa Bay 4-6-0; Ottawa 4-3-3
Season series: Second of three meetings. Ryan Malone scored twice and Steven Stamkos finished with a goal and two assists as the Lightning topped the Senators 6-4 in Tampa Bay on Jan. 25 as part of their 6-1-0 start to the season.
Big story: Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar didn't play the last 10 minutes of Thursday's game for Ottawa and the Senators have to hope it's nothing serious.
Gonchar has turned back the clock this season. He has scored as many as 67 points in a season in his career, which dates back to the previous lockout-shortened season of 1994-95 with the Capitals, but compiled only 64 points total in his first two seasons with the Senators.
Now, with Erik Karlsson out, Gonchar has been on a tear. He has a goal and 13 assists during a nine-game points streak, and has taken over the team scoring lead with 21 points in 28 games.
Lightning: Goaltending issues plagued Tampa Bay again on Wednesday in Toronto, as starter Mathieu Garon was pulled in the second period of a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in favor of Anders Lindback. To add injury to insult, Lindback ended up leaving the game in the third with a high ankle sprain, and is out indefinitely. The Lightning were down four goals after 40 minutes, and scores in the third by Radko Gudas (his first in the NHL) and Cory Conacher amounted to little more than window dressing.
"It was unfortunate that we did that to ourselves," Conacher said. "We are going to have to get those two points back and hopefully rebound in the next game."
Senators: The good news for Ottawa is its opponent Saturday afternoon isn't Northeast Division rival Boston. The Senators are 10-2-3 at Scotiabank Place this season, among the best home records in the League, but they've now lost 11 in a row at home against the Bruins dating back to 2009 after Thursday's 2-1 defeat. They scored the first goal, courtesy of Kaspars Daugavins, but were stopped on the other 27 shots they put on Anton Khudobin. A strong outing by Robin Lehner, who also made 27 saves, went to waste when Dennis Seidenberg scored with 1:04 left in regulation.
"We're trying to win the game," defenseman Chris Phillips said. "We're not thinking about overtime; the reality was we were one minute away and we were going to get a point. To come out with nothing is tough."
Who's hot: Martin St. Louis has an assist in three straight games for the Lightning. His 32 assists are second in the League to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
Injury report: In addition to Lindback being out, Tampa Bay has Malone (shoulder) and fellow forwards Benoit Pouliot (shoulder) and Vincent Lecavalier (lower body) on injured reserve. … Ottawa hoped to learn more on Gonchar's condition Friday, though coach Paul MacLean said after Thursday's game, "I'm not too concerned about it." That's good, because he's already without goalie Craig Anderson (ankle), Karlsson (Achilles) and fellow defensemen Jared Cowen (hip) and Marc Methot (lower body) and forwards Jason Spezza (back), Dave Dziurzynski (concussion) and Milan Michalek (knee).