For the first time in two weeks the Lightning finally had two days between games after Saturday’s thrilling 6-5 overtime win at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. In case you missed it, Teddy Purcell scored with 10 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime where Benoit Pouliot found the loose puck in front and buried it behind Jose Theodore to snap the Lightning’s six-game losing streak. Believe it or not, it is just the fifth time in Tampa Bay franchise history that a player has scored with 20 seconds or less remaining in a game and they went on to win it in overtime (shootouts not included). The last time was November 20, 2010 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Guy Boucher will go right back with Anders Lindback tonight after having two days between games. Despite allowing the most goals he has all season, Boucher said most were not his fault and he earned another start. Another guy that earned another start was Marc-Andre Bergeron who will go again after being a healthy scratch for the three previous games. He logged 14:52 in ice time against Florida and assisted on Pouliot’s game-winner. Who will sit out is still a mystery as Boucher said this morning that he will decide whether to go with six or seven defensemen after the warm up.
Steven Stamkos is always a popular topic when the Maple Leafs come to town. That is his home town team and most of the media there have been covering him since he was 10-years-old. It has been interesting to witness the on-going evolution of Stamkos, and it is evidenced by the types of questions he has gotten. First it was about learning the speed in the NHL, then about not producing, then being a sniper from the face-off dot, then finding different ways to score and now the focus is on becoming a complete player. Boucher said that his slump two years ago was the best thing to ever happen to Stamkos, because he learned that the team can win when he does not find the back of the net as long as he plays the right way and goes about the process correctly.
Stamkos was also sporting some new socks today. These aren’t your average run of the mill hosiery. They are made of Kevlar and Stamkos is part of a growing number of NHL players wearing them that is now growing more after Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson had his Achilles tendon cut going for a puck behind the net last week. Stamkos will not be wearing them tonight, but will wear them full time once he’s comfortable with them.
Tomorrow the Lightning are scheduled to practice at 11:30 a.m. at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. If you see Bolts founder Phil Esposito tonight at the game be sure to wish him a happy birthday as he will celebrate one tomorrow (for my own safety, I won’t give away his age).
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Thing to Keep an Eye On: The ordinary. Boucher said the morning that the Lightning need to stop trying to do extraordinary things. He said that can throw you in to situations that players can have trouble managing. So the emphasis will be on becoming masters of the ordinary and making the smart, simple play.
On the Rise: Pouliot. No big shocker here, but Pouliot has been getting it done in a number of ways. As Marty St. Louis said this morning, he is showing why he was such a high draft pick. He can beat you with skill or physicality with the size to play in the corners and in front of the net. It has paid off so far with five goals and he now has two goals and four points in the previous three games.
Big Ben: Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens, who has taken the reins after an injury to No. 1 guy James Reimer, has posted back to back shutouts entering tonight’s game. He has gone 142:21 without allowing a goal and is expected to start for Toronto tonight.