Thrashers (23-18-9) at Lightning (29-15-5) 5:00 pm
Today the Lightning start a record breaking 12 game homestand in yet another Southeast showdown against the Thrashers for the second time in three days. This will be the last meeting of the season between the two, and the Lightning have won the previous five games by a combined score of 18-10. In fact, Tampa Bay has taken the last 10 meetings with the Thrashers, and they look to make it 11 tonight.
For the Lightning, Steven Stamkos has caught fire after going cold the first handful of games in 2011. He is currently riding a 5 game point streak that includes six goals and three assists. Stamkos now leads the league in goals with 37 and is tied with Sidney Crosby for the points lead at 66.
Teammate Martin St. Louis has quietly been putting together quite the impressive season. He’s currently fourth in the league in scoring with 58 points. His hands are a smooth as ever, and he and Stamkos feed off each other very well. Each has the other to thank for the great success these All-Stars are having this season.
The Lightning boast the best home record in the league at 14-4-2. That’s good because the Lightning need to have a good month to keep the surging Capitals at bay. The Caps are just one point back for the division lead, and it looks as though Alex Ovechkin may be finding his scoring touch again. He had a hat trick last night in a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and has 4 goals in his last two games.
The Thrashers still sit inside the playoff picture in the 8th seed, but they have been struggling lately. They are 3-4-3 in their last ten games, and Carolina is right on their heels 3 points back. They need this win more than the Lightning, but they will have to overcome a strong home team in Tampa Bay. Both teams have something to fight for, and we’ll see which one can translate that desire into results.