The Lightning meet southeast division rival Carolina Hurricanes this evening in a battle for first place with a eye on playoff positioning. With the season already 1/3 complete both teams have 17 points on the season, two more than the third place Winnipeg Jets. The first place tie is sure to be broken up tonight giving one of two teams a leg up on the other, with three more meetings schedule to be played between the teams this year. The Lightning won he first battle between the teams, 4-1, behind a great performance from Mathieu Garon.
It looks like Garon will be in the nets again for the Lightning, while Carolina will counter with former Bolt Dan Ellis. Head coach Boucher indicated that his lineup will remain the same as it was nights ago against Boston with Marc-Andre Bergeron in the lineup on defense. Boucher praised Bergeron for his play and also noted that Keith Aulie is still getting over some after effects of a stomach bug.
Keys for the Lightning tonight will include getting off to a strong start on the road while playing more sound defensively as it did for much of the Boston game. Martin St. Louis reminded the media that the Lightning also needs to cash in when it has scoring chances.
Congratulations to Lightning assistant Steve Thomas who left the team to see son Christian, who is slated to play his first NHL game tonight for the New York Rangers.
After tonight’s contest, the Bolts fly to Pittsburgh to meet the waiting Penguins on Sunday night. The Pens defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-1, last night, but they may be without Evgeni Malkin on Sunday due to a nasty spill in the Florida game.