The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off their back-to-back road trip in search of their fourth straight win as they take on the Ottawa Senators.
It has been pretty chilly here in the Bolts Nation the last couple of days, but this is nothing compared to where the Tampa Bay Lightning are headed tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning will kick off a short back-to-back road trip tonight at the Canadian Tire Centre as they battle the Ottawa Senators. Should the Lightning bring home the victory tonight, it will be their fourth win in a row.
As any hockey fan is well aware, it is important to bring home the two points during this time in the season; however, tonight’s (and tomorrow night’s) encounter are especially crucial. Right now, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in a neck and neck battle with the Boston Bruins for the second place position in the Atlantic Division. Given the fact that the next two encounters are against divisional opponents, it makes bringing home a win that much more important.
Tonight is not the first time these two teams have met in the center of the ice this season. Thankfully for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first two meetings between these teams have been pretty favorable for the Lightning. On December 10, 2015, the Lightning would defeat the Senators 4-1 at the Amalie Arena. Just ten days later, the Lightning would come up victorious once again as the Lightning would defeat the Senators 5-2.
The Ottawa Senators come into tonight’s encounter on a bit of a rollercoaster. After suffering painful defeats at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers on February 2nd and 4th respectively, the Senators took control of their destiny and annihilated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 on Saturday night on home ice.
A win in tonight’s encounter would put the Senators one step closer to overcoming the Montreal Canadiens for the 5th place spot in the division. On the other hand, if the Lightning is able to bring home the two points, it would allow for a little separation between the Bolts and the Bruins while also helping the Lightning to gain a little ground on their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers.
When the players finally hit the ice tonight, there are a couple of Senators players the Tampa Bay Lightning should be particularly cautious of. The main target for the Lightning defense should be Senators captain Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has been a rock solid playmaker for the Sens this season.
Erik Karlsson is one of four Senators players who has played in all 53 games so far this season. In that amount of time, Karlsson would bring home 11 goals and a whopping 48 assists. Karlsson’s 48 assists not only puts him at the top of the list of Senators players in terms of overall points but also the first place among the entire National Hockey League in terms of assists.
Another Senators player the Tampa Bay Lightning should be especially mindful of is left wing Mike Hoffman. At 26 years of age, Hoffman leads the Ottawa Senators in goals with 23. Add in the 18 assists he’s made so far this season and Hoffman comes in with a grand total of 41 points. This puts Hoffman in third place on the Senators in terms of overall points.
On the other side of the ice, it is right wing Nikita Kucherov who is leading the way for the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the 51 games Kucherov has suited up for this season, he has brought home 21 goals and 24 assists for a total of 45 points. Right on the heels of Kucherov is Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos, who is tied with Kucherov for first place on the team in goals, has brought home 21 goals and 19 assists for a total of 40 points.
While he may not be at the top of the list right now in terms of points, Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson seems to be heating up as of late. Over the course of the last two to three games Johnson has been more aggressive with the puck and has taken many more shots at the net. Johnson has brought home a goal in each of the last two games while also registering 2 assists on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As we mentioned before, the Tampa Bay Lightning have history on their side in terms of victories against the Senators this season, but this doesn’t mean the Lightning get to lay off the gas. If the Bolts want to bring home the victory in Ottawa tonight, they are going to have to continue to be aggressive with the puck, set the tone of the game early, and play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. Are you ready to Be The Thunder for your Tampa Bay Lightning as they venture into the great, white North?
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