(SportsNetwork.com) – The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to snap a lengthy
losing streak to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night when the clubs meet
for the second time this season.
The Lightning visited the Penguins last Monday as part of a five-game road
trip and lost a 4-2 decision despite Pittsburgh playing without captain Sidney
Crosby due to the mumps.
But the Pens got goals from four different skaters and Marc-Andre Fleury
posted 28 saves as Pittsburgh defeated Tampa Bay for the 10th time in a row.
The Lightning have not beaten the Penguins since Nov. 17, 2011 and have lost
the past four at home in this series.
Bolts goaltender Ben Bishop suffered a lower-body injury and exited that game
versus the Penguins early. He has missed all three games Tampa Bay has played
since, but is nearing a return.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, though, listed his goaltender as “doubtful to
questionable” for tonight even tough Bishop wants to play after practicing
“He’s just getting back,” Cooper told his team’s website. “He, by his own
account, is not 100 percent, so if that’s going to leave a little bit of
doubt, then we’ll see where he’s at (Tuesday).”
Rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy has started twice in the three games Bishop has
missed and could start again tonight. He made 23 saves on 24 shots faced to
win his NHL debut last Tuesday versus Philadelphia, then turned aside 45 shots
in a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Vasilevskiy was in position to secure his first career shutout, but instead
allowed a pair of goals just 12 seconds apart late in the third period, and
the Islanders tacked on an empty-net goal.
Brett Connolly had the lone goal for the Lightning, who went 1-3-1 on their
road trip and have lost six of their past eight overall.
“We know we haven’t played our best on this road trip,” Connolly said. “There
are no excuses.”
Defenseman Jason Garrison suffered an undisclosed injury versus the Islanders
and is doubtful for tonight.
The Penguins look to rebound tonight after having a three-game winning streak
snapped with last night’s shootout loss to Florida. The Pens beat a visiting
Panthers team on Saturday to begin a home-and-home set, but Florida’s
Aleksander Barkov had the deciding tally in a seven-round shootout on Monday.
After Simon Despres had his chance deflected away by Roberto Luongo to open
the final round, Barkov faked a move from forehand-to-backhand up the middle
and casually flipped a shot past Fleury.
Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin lit the lamp for the
Penguins, and Fleury stopped 34 shots.
“We didn’t get a lot of shots through,” Crosby said.
Pittsburgh continues to be short-handed due to injury and illness. Forwards
Beau Bennett, Pascal Dupuis, Zach Sill and Scott Wilson, and defensemen Robert
Bortuzzo, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin and Olli Maatta are all out with
injury. Forward Blake Comeau, meanwhile, left last night’s game in the third
period due to injury.
Also, the Penguins sent forwards Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie along with
backup goaltender Thomas Greiss back to Pittsburgh to be tested for the mumps.
Pittsburgh recalled goaltender Jeff Zatkoff from the American Hockey League,
but with the club off until Saturday following this contest due to the
Christmas break, Fleury could start again tonight.
Fleury is 16-10-3 lifetime versus Tampa Bay with a 2.38 goals against average
and .912 save percentage.