Game Day Report: Game 23 – Lightning at Pittsburgh

Published on March 4th, 2013


The Pittsburgh Penguins have been on the proverbial defensive roller coaster for the past two weeks and they’ll have their hands full tonight with a high scoring Tampa Bay Lightning team.

The Lightning coming into tonight’s tilt as losers of four straight games; trying to right the ship. In spite of their slump, their offense is one of the best in the league, averaging 3.48 goals per game.

They’ve got a lot of skill. They play a pretty quick game. Have guys that don’t need much in order to score. I think just anytime you give them chances, they make you pay. We’ve just got to make sure we manage the puck well.
-Sidney Crosby

STARS SET TO SHINE
The NHL’s first and second Stars of the Month, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby have been battling for the league lead in points and are likely to put on a show.¬† In February, Stamkos posted 10 goals and twenty points to take the top spot in goal scoring in the NHL while ranking third in points. He enters tonight’s game on a nine-game point streak, the longest active in the League, where’s totaled eight goals and 15 points. Crosby, for his part, had 18 assists and 24 points in fourteen games in February and earned points in at least three back-to-back contests. Through 21 games, he has 22 assists, and is on pace to become the first player to average at least one helper per night since 2009-10 when Henrik Sedin did it.

THE BEST OF THE BEST.
Tonight’s contest will several of the NHL’s best taking to the same ice surface, including four of the top-five point producers, the two leading goal scorers and the top-two assist leaders. Sidney Crosby enters the game with a two-point lead over Steven Stamkos (34-32) in the overall scoring race. Chris Kunitz is tied for third in the NHL with 27 points while Martin St. Louis is in at 5th with 26 points and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Stamkos, again, leads the league with 15 goals, while James Neal is tied for second with 13. Tonight’s game is also a matchup of of the top-two highest-scoring teams in the NHL; Pittsburgh leading the NHL with 76 goals, while Tampa Bay ranks second with 73.

BENNETT TO WBS, BOYCHUK TO WAIVERS.
It was announced late this afternoon that the Penguins had re-assigned rookie Beau Bennet to WBS and had placed Zach Boychuk on waivers. The moves were done to ensure there was enough room to get Evgeni Malkin back into the line up tonight. Bennet, the Penguins first round pick in 2010, notched a goal and two assists in eight games with the club while Boychuk, who was claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on January 31, 2013, has played seven games with the organization.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Penguins: Evgeni Malkin
All eyes will be on the reigning MVP in his first game back from his concussion. Malkin has lit up Lightning goaltenders the past two seasons, including two hat-tricks on his way to 11 points in the 2011-2012 season alone. He’ll be back centering the second line and will be looking to help right the problems the team has faced in his absence.

Lightning: Steve Stamkos
Even though the Lightning have been cold lately, Stamkos has been red-hot as of late. Last game against the Pens, Stamkos had a goal and three assists. The 23-year-old is currently riding a nine game point streak, during the course of which his tallied eight goals and 15 points. He is second only to Sidney Crosby¬† in the league. Look for him to be a big factor in tonight’s game.

PROBABLE LIGHTNING LINES
Conacher-Stamkos-Purcell
Killorn-Lecavalier-St.Louis
Palat-Thompson-Pyatt
Crombeen-Hall-Panik

Hedman-Carle
Aulie-Brewer
Lee-Bergeron

Garon

PROBABLE PENGUINS LINES
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Cooke-Malkin-Neal
Jeffrey-Sutter-Kennedy
Glass-Vitale-Adams

Orpik-Letang
Eaton-Niskanen
Engelland-Bortuzzo/Despres

Fleury