The Lightning return home tonight after a three-game road trip for a pair of games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tonight the Bolts will play host to the Ottawa Senators, losers of four in a row. The teams have split the season series with Tampa Bay taking the only meeting at the Times Forum back on January 25. The goalie for Ottawa in that game? Ben Bishop, who is now with Tampa Bay.
Bishop will get the nod again, this time for the Lightning, as he squares off against his former team. It will mark the fourth consecutive start for Bishop in the past six days. It will, however, be his home debut after playing his first three games on the road. Cooper said this morning at first stamina was a concern, but Bishop has proved he is fine. After not traveling on the last trip, Ryan Malone returned to the ice with his teammates this morning and all signs point to his return to the Lightning line-up. No one said 100 percent, but you just kind of get that feeling. Anders Lindback was also a full participant in the morning skate today, although he is still a little while off.
In a small swap with Syracuse yesterday, the Lightning recalled Mark Barberio and reassigned Matt Taormina to the Crunch. Cooper said he will use Barberio the same way he was using Taormina, although he may see some power play time. Barberio, the reigning AHL Defenseman of the Year, said it was nice to arrive and see some familiar faces, especially his former roommates in Syracuse, Radko Gudas and Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
Cory Conacher will also be returning to the Times Forum less than a week after being traded to Ottawa for Bishop. He said all the right things this morning and thanked the Lightning organization for giving the undrafted free agent a chance. He did say that it will be very weird tonight.
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A Time to Kill – Though they didn’t get the results they would like, the Lightning did very well killing penalties on this past road trip. In the three games the Bolts did not allow a power play goal, killing all six power play chances against. Pretty impressive considering they were facing the Staal brothers (Carolina), John Tavares (NY Islanders) and Alex Ovechkin (Washington).
Getting Offensive – Defenseman Matt Carle has recorded a point in a career-best five consecutive games. He has a goal and six assists in that time.