Jan 23, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) reacts after the Ottawa Senators right wing Chris Neil (25) scores a goal during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning won 4-3 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Game 54 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Ottawa Senators

The Lightning pay a visit to Ottawa for the first time as Division rivals.

 

Lightning-Logo(31-17-5, 67 points) 2nd Atlantic Division

VS

SENS LOGO(23-20-10, 56 points)  6th Atlantic Division

7:30 PM

CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE

TV: Roger’s Sportsnet;  RADIO:  TSN1200

 

MATCHUP HISTORY

This is the third meeting of 5 for the teams this season.  Both previous meetings have taken place in Tampa, with the Lightning winning the first game 3-1 and then also taking the second, 4-3 in a shootout just last week.

 

LAST GAMES

Ottawa finished off their 4 game road trip with a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, while the Lightning were shut down by the Maple Leafs by the same score of 3-2, both on Tuesday.  The night was polar opposite for the teams as the Senator jumped out to a 2-0 lead before allowing Columbus to tie it and then needing the winner late.  Tampa fell behind 2-0 before tying it up and then allowing a late goal to lose the game.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Steven Stamkos, TBL:  Although he won’t play tonight, all eyes will be on the Lightning sniper in the morning skate to see just how active he is as the deadline to make a decision on his Olympic participation looms closer and closer.   The entire Lightning team had the day off yesterday, so his level of participation today could be an indication on  how close he is.

Stephane Da Costa, OTT:  After scoring his first two goals of the season against the Blue Jackets, Da Costa needs to show that level of ability and compete level on a regular basis if he wants to find full time employment in North America next season. After one good game, that search for consistency starts tonight.

 

TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME

1.  Return Of Big BenBen Bishop is having a Vezina level season in the Tampa net.  He is 3-0 in his career against Ottawa, but all of those games have come in Tampa.  This will be his first game against the Senators in Ottawa.

2.  Missing: RyanBobby Ryan is a part of the Senators’ most productive and consistent line, but he is in a personal slump that is approaching a month.  He has just a goal and 3 assists in 11 games this month, but with 2 assists in his last 3 games he could be showing signs of breaking out of the doldrums.

3. AndersonCraig Anderson played a very good game in Columbus and cannot be faulted for either goal against.  He also needs to show a level of consistency for the Senators to make strides.

 

PARTING SHOT

Is this the night where the Senators finally break through and grab a playoff position?  A win, combined with a Columbus regulation loss to the Capitals would put the Sens in the 2nd wild card spot, a postion they have not occupied since Oct 12th. While the win is important, seeing themselves in a playoff spot would be uplifting and provide even further confidence and motivation to keep that spot for the rest of the season, and then focus on moving up to a better seed.

 

Tags: Ben Bishop Bobby Ryan Craig Anderson Lighting Ottawa Senators Playoffs Stephane Da Costa Steven Stamkos

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