When: Saturday, December 3, 7:00 p.m.
Opponent: @ Tampa Bay Lightning (11-11-2)
New York is finding ways to win with key contributions from leaders, stars and workhorse grinders alike. They are just three points shy of leading the league in points. A victory in Tampa would take the win streak to five.
The first meeting of the season between the two clubs brings with it some reunions. The 2004 Jack Adams winner John Tortorella and the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards will enter the St. Pete Times Forum for the first time together along with Game 7 hero Ruslan Fedotenko since winning the Stanley Cup with the Lightning back in ’04. The Rangers will face their former defenseman Matt Gilroy for the first time as he dons a new shade of blue on a top defensive line.
With Mathias Ohlund still out and Victor Hedman just returned from injury, Gilroy has seen time on the Lightning’s top defensive pairings with Eric Brewer and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
The Rangers lost all four contests against Tampa Bay last season. The last time they defeated them was in April 2010 at 5-0.
New York has won 11 of its last 13 games. Fourteen different Rangers scored points in their 5-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Sniper Marian Gaborik continues to shine as he scored his team leading 12th goal of the season and assisted on Sean Avery’s critical tally in the second period. Rookie winger Carl Hagelin has recorded a point in each of the four games he's played since being called up from the Connecticut Whale. Fellow call-up John Mitchell has three points in four games and added warrior to his resume after blocking a shot with his face.
In the month of November, the Lightning went 6-7. They lost their last two games by a margin of 7 to 3.
After giving up two goals in the first to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, Martin St. Louis struck on the power play in the second. Steve Stamkos scored in the dying seconds of the period off a slick cross ice pass from Gilroy to tie up the game. Despite the second period surge, Detroit came away with a 4-2 win in the third.
The Rangers can’t be fooled by the lackluster record as Tampa Bay is always dangerous. They have a wealth of scoring options from the obvious stars to the supporting cast of Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone and energy contributor Dominic Moore.
Stamkos has 10 goals in his past 12. With 16 total goals on the season, he leads the Lightning and is tied with Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel for the NHL lead. Captain Vincent Lecavelier is also making big contributions this season with 18 points in 24 games and four game winning goals.
Though Rangers’ backup goaltender Martin Biron is 4-1-1 and made 28 saves in the Rangers win against Carolina, he’s allowed seven goals in his last two starts. Henrik Lundqvist could be back in action.
In order to win, the Blueshirts must find a way to be more consistent on the power play and hold on to a lead. The Lightning won’t back down easily.