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Penguins vs. Lightning Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 13-7-1-27
Road: 12-5-2-26

WHEN: Jan. 5, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Tampa Bay Lightning
Home: 12-3-2-26

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 
Vincent Lecavalier
C -  #4
  7 Goals
  9 Assists
  16 Points
• Has been heating up for the Bolts since returning to the lineup on Dec. 15 after missing 15 games with a broken hand – the forward has four goals and two assists in his past six contests.

• Assisted on Martin St. Louis’ overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals that clinched the Cup for Tampa Bay, their first and only championship to date.

• The Bolts captain won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2007 when he scored a league-leading 52 goals.
Teddy Purcell
RW  -  #16
  6 Goals
  18 Assists
  24 Points
• The undrafted forward has been enjoying a career year with the Lightning, posting personal bests in goals (6), assists (18) and points (24) through 39 games, ranking fourth in team scoring.

• Was sent to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in exchange for Jeff Halpern in March 2010, where Purcell proceeded to score nine points (3G-6A) with the Lightning in 19 games.

• Tallied 83 points (25G-58A) in 67 games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League in his rookie season.
Brett Clark
D  -  #7
  7 goals
   10 assists 
  17 points
• The undrafted forward has been enjoying a career year with the Lightning, posting personal bests in goals (6), assists (18) and points (24) through 39 games, ranking fourth in team scoring.

• Was sent to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in exchange for Jeff Halpern in March 2010, where Purcell proceeded to score nine points (3G-6A) with the Lightning in 19 games.

• Tallied 83 points (25G-58A) in 67 games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League in his rookie season.
In an odd twist of fate, Tampa Bay comes to CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday after facing Southeast Division rival Washington on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is the scheduled opponent for both the Capitals and Penguins in each team’s first game following the Winter Classic.

The Lightning will face off with the Penguins just 24 hours after an intense 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals, who they’ve been battling all season for the top spot in the Southeast Division. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, will be fresh off a three-day break. But the Penguins, especially their defense, will have to play like they did the last time they faced the Bolts, when they earned a 5-1 victory at home versus Tampa Bay. 

This Tampa Bay squad is brimming with potent offensive threats, led by the duo of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The pair has been consistently tearing up the National Hockey League since the start of the season, ranking 2-3 in league scoring. History seems to be repeating itself in terms of the NHL goal-scoring race, as Stamkos has 31 goals to Sidney Crosby’s 32. 

Playing on a line with St. Louis elevates Stamkos’ game. The 35-year-old forward provides both a solid veteran presence to complement the 20-year-old Stamkos and an effective playmaking ability with 34 assists (good for second in the league). Ryan Malone rounds out their line to make them one of the most dangerous offensive trios in the league, as he has 10 goals and 30 points in 39 games.

But while the Bolts are led by their offensive firepower, general manager Steve Yzerman added a veteran netminder to their goaltending rotation to provide some stability between the pipes. With Mike Smith recovering from a knee injury and Dan Ellis struggling to find consistency, Tampa Bay traded defenseman Ty Wishart to the New York Islanders for Dwayne Roloson. Roloson, 41, had been playing his best hockey prior to the trade, earning a 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage despite a 6-13-1 record with the struggling Islanders.

And he hasn’t lost a beat with his new team. Roloson came up huge in his first game with Tampa Bay on Tuesday, turning aside 34 shots to earn a whitewash in his Lightning debut, including 21 in the second period, to hand the Capitals their first 1-0 overtime loss in franchise history. The Penguins will face the red-hot Roloson, as Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he will get the nod in goal Wednesday.
  • Tampa Bay and Washington were tied 0-0 after regulation on Tuesday before Martin St. Louis tallied in overtime to give the Bolts a 1-0 win. It was the first game in the Capitals' 36-year franchise history that ended in a scoreless deadlock after regulation.
  • The last time the Penguins and the Lightning faced off, Pittsburgh powered their way to a 5-1 victory at CONSOL Energy Center. Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Maxime Talbot all earned a goal and an assist in the game, with defensemen Alex Goligoski and Deryk Engelland also scoring for the Penguins.
  • In that game, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 15 of 16 shots to become the seventh-youngest goaltender in NHL history to record 150 wins. That victory also began a 15-game unbeaten stretch (14-0-1) for the Penguins. Since that game the Penguins have posted an 18-4-2 record.
  • The first time the Penguins and the Bolts met this season on Oct. 27, Craig Adams and Matt Cooke tallied shorthanded goals 1:01 minutes apart during the same penalty in the first period. That marked the 32nd time in team history the Penguins scored two shorthanded goals in one game, and the first since Dec. 15, 2009 when Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal scored against Philadelphia. It also marked the first time the Penguins scored twice on the same penalty kill since Kris Letang and Maxime Talbot did so on April 11, 2009 at Montreal.
  • As of Wednesday, the Bolts were tied for the league’s fourth-best power play, clicking at a 22.7-percent success rate. They rank first (tied) in power-play goals with 39, with Steven Stamkos leading the NHL with 13 of those tallies. But despite their success with the man-advantage, the Bolts have also allowed seven shorthanded goals, the most (tied) in the league.
  • The Penguins had four players selected to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game when the final results were announced Tuesday. Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang finished Nos. 1-2 in overall vote-getters, while Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury also got named to the squad. The top-six vote-getters represent just two teams, with Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith of Chicago rounding out the top six starters.


Play Conservatively: The Bolts don’t just have Stamkos and St. Louis. While captain Vincent Lecavalier and offseason acquisition Simon Gagne haven’t been putting up the monster numbers they usually do, that doesn’t mean they’re not still extremely dangerous when they have the puck. Although it will be nice for the Penguins to resume play on an indoor rink without any threat of rain hindering their game, it’s best not to make risky plays or try to get too fancy around players with the offensive touch that these Tampa Bay forwards do.

Stifle Stamkos and St. Louis: The two forwards are Tampa Bay’s version of the two-headed monster, much like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for Pittsburgh. Stamkos is dangerous with his blistering shot that he can tee off in the blink of an eye. St. Louis may be one of the league’s smaller players at 5-foot-8, 176 pounds, but according to Brooks Orpik, “It’s really hard to hit him or play against him because he’s so strong and so low to the ice, it’s tough to get leverage.” The services of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek will be crucial to shutting down Tampa Bay’s top tandem.
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Eric Godard, eye (3)
RW Steve Downie, sprained ankle (indefinitely)
G Mike Smith, left MCL sprain (2-3 weeks)
D Randy Jones, upper-body (day-to-day)
Crosby (32) Stamkos (31)
Crosby (33) St. Louis (34)
Crosby (65) Stamkos (56)
Engelland (76) Downie (68)
Letang (+20) Stamkos (+12)
Crosby (10) Stamkos (13)
Adams/Cooke (2)
Fleury (17-9-2) Ellis (11-6-5)
Johnson (2.14) Ellis (3.02)
Johnson (.925) Ellis (.886)

Kris Letang - Letang tied his single-season career high by earning his 33rd point in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, a 3-1 loss to the Capitals. Letang assisted on Evgeni Malkin’s second-period tally, giving him six points in seven games and his 27th helper of the season. Not only that, but Letang fired seven shots on goal in that game, many of which were quality scoring chances and tied a season-high. We’ve also got to give him props for being voted into his first NHL All-Star Game, earning the most votes among all NHL defensemen and write-in candidates.
Martin St. Louis - St. Louis tallied the overtime winner in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday to propel the Lightning ahead of the Capitals in the standings. Tampa Bay’s 53 points put them one ahead of Washington’s 52. St. Louis’ goal, his 17th of the season, gives him 51 points through 40 games, putting him on pace to break his career-high of 102 points, achieved in 82 games in 2006-07. His 34 assists rank second in the league, while his 17 goals are tied for 13th. The 35-year-old forward is tied for the team lead in minutes-played, averaging 21:06 of ice time each game.

Fleury's Remarkable Turnaround Results in All-Star Appearance
Letang's Continued Improvement Makes for All-Star Season
Four Penguins Named To 2011 All-Star Game 
 Crosby, Luongo and Lidstrom named NHL 'Three Stars' For December 
Penguins Report: 1/4/11
King of Engelland
Penguins Sign Defenseman Engelland to 3-Year Contract Extension  
2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Most-Watched Regular Season Game in 36 Years 
Pens Say 'Thank You' To Fans 

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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