The Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-2) have heated up as of late, winning three out of their last four games. Tampa Bay is looking for its fifth straight victory on home ice, and extending that streak won't be easy as the Lightning face the Philadelphia Flyers (8-4-2) who have also won three out of their last four games.
Tampa Bay's recent victory's have come in dramatic fashion including two come-from-behind victory's last week. First, the Lightning erased a two goal deficit to defeat Chicago 4-3 in overtime on Friday and erased a three goal deficit to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout on Sunday. The Lightning's last three games have all been close affairs, being decided by only one goal.
This game tonight is going to be interesting. The Lightning are playing remarkable at home, looking for the team's fifth straight victory at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Lightning have outscored their opponents 13-5 in that four game winning streak. The Flyers though are playing well on the road, boasting a 4-1 record and searching for the franchise's best road start in 18 seasons.
The Flyers are proving to be a dangerous team offensively and the club leads the NHL in goals scored with 56. In the last three games, the Flyers have scored 17 goals, including goals from eight different players in Saturday's 9-2 shellacking of Columbus. The Flyers have five players with at least five goals this season.
With weapons like Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr, and James Van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia's high-flying offense has proved to be the number one concern for Tampa Bay. The team has focused on defense in practice this week and will be without its top two players on defense tonight. Victor Hedman will miss his second game with an upper body injury he sustained in Friday night's 4-3 win over the Blackhawks and Mattias Ohlund remains on injured reserve with his knee injury. Tampa Bay's defense has come out flat on multiple occasions this season even with Hedman in the lineup. If the Lightning are going to avoid falling behind early, there must not be a flurry of neutral zone turnovers because the Flyers will take advantage of that and the game will get out of hand quick. The Lightning cannot allow too many scoring chances for the Flyers and they need to lessen the load on Dwayne Roloson. Tampa Bay has been embarrassingly outshot in the first period in multiple contests this season and correcting this mistake without the team's top two defensemen will be a difficult task.
The Flyers will get their own boost on the blue-line, with Chris Pronger expected in the lineup. Pronger has been out since he suffered an eye inury on Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Philadelphia has killed off all 13 penalties in the team's 3-0-1 stretch, but could use Pronger on the power play, going 1-for-19 in the last four games.
Players to watch... Lightning: Steven Stamkos has nine goals in his last nine games...Flyers: Jaromir Jagr is on a seven-game points streak, with six goals and five assists... Claude Giroux has nine points in five games...
Injury report: Ohlund (knee) Ryan Malone (upper body, day to day) Hedman (upper body, day to day). Pronger (eye) expected in lineup, Matt Read (upper-body, day to day).
Coverage: 620 WDAE, Versus