The Tampa Bay Lightning head into Minnesota tonight to play a top team in the Western conference. The Wild and the Lightning face off tonight in what should be a very interesting game. The Lightning, after a couple of disappointing losses, including a 7-1 beating at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, have won two games in a row against the rival Florida Panthers. In both games, the Lightning look to have regained its form. Even after the Lightning gave up a goal in the second period in Sunrise Friday night, the team continued to push until Lecavalier tied the game in the middle of the third period. Marty St. Louis set up Stamkos to win the game in overtime and the Lightning came away with a one-goal comeback victory. Saturday’s game was a completely different story. The Lightning scored four unanswered goals and went on to win the game 5-1 in Tampa Bay against the same Panthers team. Stamkos added another two goals, while St. Louis, Pyatt, and Malone also scored. Pyatt’s goal was his first in a Lightning uniform and proved to be the game winner Saturday night.
The Lightning are facing a surprise Wild team tonight. Despite a 5-2 loss to the Flames Sunday night, the Wild lead their division and are in second overall in the Western Conference, trailing the Blackhawks by just two points. As the Lightning head in to Minnesota tonight, they will need to focus defensively on Mikko Koivu, as he has two goals and seven points in his past five games. The Lightning will also have to solve Niklas Backstrom, who has won his last three starts. However, offense hasn’t been a problem lately for the Lightning’s big three. Stamkos is now two points behind the Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel for the league lead in goals and has goals in eight of the past ten games. St. Louis has 2 goals and 2 assists in the past four games, while Vinny Lecavalier has four goals in the past five games.
A big story in the Lightning’s past two victories has been the return of Dana Tyrell. With his return, the DNA line (Dana Tyrell, Nate Thompson, and Adam Hall) has been reunited. In both games against the Panthers, the line managed to manufacture scoring chances by applying great forechecking pressure to the Panthers’ defense deep within their zone. The DNA line will be key to shutting down the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Lightning also played very physically against the Panthers’, which seemed to catch them off guard. The Lightning will need to continue what they did against the Panthers and not change the intensity that they played with over the weekend. Despite the outcome of tonight’s game, it should be one that is fun to watch.