The Tampa Bay Lightning 17-20-3 face a tough test Tuesday night as they host the first place Vancouver Canucks 26-14-3 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. While sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and losing three straight games on the road, it's important for Tampa Bay to bounce back and gain some ground in the standings.
Nine of the next 12 games are at home for the Lightning and this is where they need to collect some points. That won't be the easiest task though, especially since Tampa Bay has been outscored 14-5 in its last three losses and faces a Canucks team that ranks fourth overall in the league with goals per game, scoring an average of 3.2 each contest.
Both teams at a glance:
Dwayne Roloson will start in between the pipes for Tampa Bay and although he hasn't posted stellar number this season, he had a quite solid effort in his last game. Tonight could be interesting though. The amount of goals Vancouver has been scoring lately could pose as a huge problem for the Tampa Bay goaltender. Hopefully it doesn't get too ugly too early. Mathieu Garon, be ready.
The kid is back:
Lightning rookie Brett Connolly is back in the lineup after playing in the World Junior Championships for Canada. Connolly has four goals and four assists in 28 NHL games.
The Canucks are playing some of their best hockey this season and with a power play that ranks first in the NHL to boot, they will be difficult to beat.
The team has not made it official whether Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo will start in net tonight, but it looks more possible for Schneider to get the nod. Luongo played last night against the Florida Panthers and will most likely not play in back-to-back games.
Who's hot: LIGHTNING: It seems like Steven Stamkos is always on fire and that's probably because he is. He scored in the Lightning last game, the 3-1 loss to the Canadiens, keeping his five game scoring streak alive. He has scored six goals in that span and leads the NHL with 28 goals. Stamkos has tallied at least 40 goals in his first three seasons, which is something only he has accomplished. CANUCKS: Rookie Cody Hodgson has 10 goals and 24 points so far this season and plays a big role on Vancouver's second power play unit. Also worth mentioning are Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who each have a goal and three assists in the last five games.
Injury report: Tampa Bay is will be without JT Wyman (upper body) Mattias Ohlund (knee), Victor Hedman (concussion), Ryan Shannon (knee), Adam Hall (upper body). There isn't anything specific to Hall's injury that has been reported but signs point to him being out for a lengthy amount of time. A concussion has been ruled out.
The Canucks are expected to play without Sammi Salo (concussion), David Booth (knee), Aaron Rome (thumb), Byron Bitz (hip) Andrew Ebbett (collarbone), and Aaron Volpatti (shoulder).
With an injury-ridden roster, the Lightning will be forced to shuffle the line up a bit. Tampa Bay will be rolling with seven defensemen tonight. Tampa Bay Defensemen Brendan Mikkelson, who was acquired last week from Calgary for Blair Jones, will play tonight.
When: Jan. 10 2012 7:30 p.m.
Where: Tampa Bay Times Forum Tampa, Fl
Media: Sunshine Network (T.V.) 970 WFLA (Radio)