Devils (26-30-4) at Lightning (35-18-7) 7:30 p.m.
The Lightning look to cool the red-hot Devils tonight as they close out their record homestand tonight at St. Pete Times Forum. While the playoffs seemed out of the picture for the Devils after their terrible start, they are currently riding a 16-1-2 wave back into the outskirts of playoff bubble, nine points out of 8th.
This is the third of four meetings between the two this season. New Jersey took the first two by a combined score of 11-5. It appears they figured out the Bolts, but they haven’t met in over a month. The Lightning will have to adjust to finish their time in Tampa on a high note.
The Lightning are just three points ahead of the Capitals, who also play tonight. The Southeast Division seems to only be getting tighter, and that creates a series of almost “must-win” games for the division-leading Bolts. Dwayne Roloson is set to start (with Mike Smith as backup) against Johan Hedberg.
Tampa is coming off a huge 8-3 win over the Coyotes that saw Teddy Purcell earn his first hat trick and Vinny Lecavalier record a five-point night. Martin St. Louis extended his point streak to seven games, but he will be facing another hot player in Ilya Kovalchuk, who is currently riding a career-best 11-game point streak.
The Devils are quite literally in a must-win situation. If they want to continue their slim hope of being able to make the playoff, they can only afford to lose a handful of games down the stretch. New Jersey is a suddenly confident team, so the Lightning will have their hands full tonight. Hopefully they can overcome the fire and strike again.