Mar 23, 2013; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie robin Lehner (40) makes a save as Tampa Bay Lightning centre Cory Conacher (89) looks on in the third period at Scotiabank Place. The Senators won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Ottawa Senators are in town to wrap up and break the tie in this season’s three game series. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the first game between the two teams at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the Senators won the second on their home ice. Tomorrow night will be the first of a 2 game home stand for the Lightning.

With under half a dozen home games left, the Lightning are looking to keep the fans happy by winning what they can at home. They were pretty muck knocked out of the playoff race over the weekend, when they lost back to back games. They gained 2 out of a possible 6 points. “Mathematically” it’s still possible, but let’s be honest here. They still have to play the Penguins, the Bruins, the Canadiens… the team would have to be constantly amazing for the rest of the season, and other teams not so much, to pull this off. Consistency is not something that they possess this year. They cost Guy Boucher his job. (Argue with me on that point if you shall @HulaDolly on Twitter, but that is how I feel. And no, I don’t think that he was perfect or that his systems were perfect, but the players definitely had the major hand in his being let go.) The best thing to do from this point on would be to pick their heads up and skate as best as they can and keep what dignity that they have left. Let the guys spend the rest of the season conforming to Jon Cooper’s systems, bring up what Baby Bolts that they think seriously might be on the Big Boy team next year, and try them out in the NHL setting where there isn’t the pressure of throwing regular season games away. Yes, I know that every game counts. But think about this. They aren’t going to the playoffs next year. Experiment now, so they can focus next season on winning.

Sami Salo was drafted by Ottawa back in 1996 and played with the team until 2002 when he went to the Vancouver Canucks. Current Sen, former Bolt Mike Lundin returns to Tampa. Ben Bishop and Cory Conacher, who were swapped with each other on the deadline date, will face their former teammates for the first time since the switch. Many Tampa fans will be happy to see Cory again, others will be upset to see him in the Ottawa uniform as this is a new wound and has not had time to heal. I can’t imagine how it will be for those two. Being you players, they aren’t used to being traded and having former teammates yet.

Matt Carle is riding a 5 point game streak, a career high. A goal and 7 points. Ryan Malone, Victor Hedman, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and Anders Lindback are all out with injures. The Senators are suffering from the injury bug themselves. Jason Spezza, Erik karlsson, Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, and Mike Hoffman are injured.

The game starts at 7:30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. You can watch it live on Fox Sports Florida, or listen live on Lightning Radio.

Dolly Dolce

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