March 3, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC center. The Lightning defeated the Hurricanes in overtime, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE
The Tampa Bay Lightning face the Ottawa Senators tonight in a game that has playoff implications.
Against all odds, the Tampa Bay Lightning are still somehow sitting in the playoff hunt. They have played like garbage at times this season and their goal tending has been a chaotic mess, yet somehow, they are a mere four points out of a playoff spot right now. For them to make the playoffs at this point would be a historic comeback, and would speak to the Bolts' tenacity...and to the overall weakness of the Southeast Division.
If the Lightning want to continue their charge toward the playoffs, they need to have a strong showing tonight against the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning have won four games in a row and will be playing at home, while the Ottawa Senators have lost their last two and are trying to hang on to the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Every game is a must-win for the Bolts right now, and this game more than most.
And as John Fontana notes over at the blog Raw Charge, this could be a tough match-up for the Bolts:
But with the positives of the recent stretch of games (7-3-0 in the past 10), comes the realization of the tough stretch ahead. [...]
It starts tonight at Times Palace with the Bolts facing their expansion brethren, the Ottawa Senators. This game completes the 2011-12 season series between the two clubs. And it hasn't been pretty from where Tampa Bay is sitting. The Lightning has been outscored 12-3 in the series, including Ottawa's 4-0 Valentine's Day drubbing. That loss was thought to inspire the beginnings of the 2012 trade deadline selloff by general manager Steve Yzerman (defenseman Pavel Kubina was asked to waive his no-trade clause on the morning of February 16thand Dominic Moore was dealt that evening before a game against the San Jose Sharks).
Puck drop is at 7:30pm EST.
For more on tonight's game, check out SB Nation's blog on the Bolts, Raw Charge.