GAME DAY: Penguins at Lightning 3/31/11

Penguins (45-24-8) at Lightning (41-24-11) at 7:30 p.m.

“Look, out on ice!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” It’s a game that actually matters!  The Lightning take on the Penguins tonight in a game that provides some immediate rewards for the first time in a long time.  Not only do the Lightning hope to clinch a playoff position for the first time since 2007, but they have the opportunity to cut the Pens home-ice advantage lead to 3 with a game in hand.

Expect both Fleury and Roloson in net tonight as these teams meet for the final time before they will likely meet in the first round of the playoffs.  The Penguins have taken two of the previous three bouts 5-1 and 8-1 in November and January, while the Bolts took a 5-3 decision in October.

The Pens have been winning a lot lately, grinding out game after game like its the playoffs.  The Lightning have been losing the grit battle recently, but Ryan Malone is getting closer and closer to being ready, as he fully participated in practice yesterday.  Tampa is almost back to full strength, and they will be a much different looking team when they are healthy come playoff time.

Forgetting the standings and the points and the individual goals, the Lightning need this win, perhaps more than any other this season.  They’ve gotten a thumping at the hands of the Pens the last two times they played.  They need this not only for their own mentality that they can beat Pittsburgh, but to show Pit they won’t be stomped on come playoff time.

This is the perfect opportunity for a statement game. We’ll just have to wait and see which statement the Lightning deliver.

Tags: Dwayne Roloson Marc-Andre Fleury Pittsburgh Penguins Tampa Bay Lightning

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