Tonight, our Tampa Bay Lightning open up the doors to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host the sixth game in their seven game home stand as they defend home ice against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The first time that these two teams met this season was on Saturday, October 5th at the United Center in Chicago.
The Blackhawks had the lead going into the third period; however, thanks to two goals about halfway through the third period; one from Captain Martin St. Louis and the second from right wing Teddy Purcell tied the game up at 2-2.
The Blackhawks were unable to come back in regulation, so the game headed to overtime. Neither team was able to get one in the back of the net during the extra time, so the game then headed to a shootout.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was able to ward off three of the hottest snipers that the Blackhawks have to offer; Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa. It would be Lighting center Valtteri Filppula who would bring it home for the Bolts.
Right now, the Bolts are coming off of a horrendous 5-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at the Forum which caused Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper to say that “The only thing good about tonight was probably the National Anthem.”
On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks were taken to task by the Florida Panthers; however, the Hawks were able to battle back and come out with the win in the shootout.
If you look at it by the numbers, surprisingly enough, these two teams are fairly evenly matched.
|Goals Per Game||3.13||2.67|
|Goals Against Per Game||2.63||2.11|
|Shots on Goal Per Game||25.88||33.67|
|Penalty Minutes Per Game||16.75||9.56|
|Power Play Goals||7||7|
|Power Play %||21.2%||21.9%|
|Penalty Kill %||78.8%||74.1%|
The Lightning leads the Blackhawks in Goals per Game, but the Blackhawks have the clear advantage in Shots on Goal Per Game. The one thing the Bolts are going to have to get on top of tonight is Penalty Minutes. They average almost 8 more minutes in penalties than the Hawks. They need to minimalize the opportunities for the Blackhawks to have an extra sniper on the ice.
Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are both tied for the team lead in points so far this season with 10 each; St. Louis with 4 goals and 6 assists, and Stamkos with 5 goals and 5 assists.
The Blackhawks have 3 players in a tie for first on the team in points. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has 6 assists, right wing Patrick Kane has 4 goals and 2 assists, and left wing Brandon Saad has 2 goals and 4 assists.
Tonight we are going to see one of the Lightning’s greatest former goaltenders go head-to-head with the Lightning’s next great goaltender. Starting in net tonight for the Blackhawks is former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. In net for the Bolts will be goaltender Ben Bishop.
So far this season, Khabibulin is 1-0 in his one appearance for the Hawks with a GAA of 2.00 and a Save Percentage of .895. Bishop is 5-1 in his 6 appearances with a GAA of 2.11 and .924.
Tonight, the Lightning will be without defenseman Brian Lee who is out with a knee injury and Tom Pyatt who is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. One the other side of the ice, the Blackhawks will be without defenseman Mike Kostka who is out with a Lower Body Injury and defenseman Michal Rozsival who is Day-to-Day with an illness.
There is a solid chance that this game could come down to the final frame. The Bolts are going to have to really wok the puck tonight, attack the net, and keep the puck out of the hands of people like Toews, Kane, and Patrick Sharp. If they can do all that, and manage to stay out of the penalty box, we may just have ourselves a pretty intense game here.
Make sure to check back with us during the game for in-game commentary and opinion, and after for our recap of the game.
Are you ready for the Lightning to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions? I know we are.
If you can’t make it to the Forum tonight, we have all the information on how you can watch/listen to tonight’s game right here.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Say it with me now…LET’S GO LIGHTNING!!