Preview: Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, January 15, 2016
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Two teams on the rise look to continue their ascent when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Captain Steven Stamkos is heating up for the Lightning, who have won four of their last five contests, while Pittsburgh has earned at least one point in eight of its last 10 games (5-2-3).
Stamkos has scored four goals in as many games to reach 20 for the eighth straight season to start his career and is prospering on a new line with Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov. “It’s just going to keep getting better and better, hopefully,” Stamkos told reporters. “The more we play with each other, the more chemistry and awareness we have on the ice.” The Penguins are as healthy as they have been in a while with oft-injured defenseman Kris Letang serving as a catalyst, posting 12 points in his last eight contests. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby (39 points in 28 games) and Evgeni Malkin (40 in 30) also have given Tampa Bay fits over the years.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TVA, ROOT (Pittsburgh), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (20-16-6): Malkin, who will join Letang at the All-Star Game, has recorded nine points in his last seven games and will be hoping to make up for his penalty in overtime that led to a loss at Carolina on Tuesday. Crosby (33 points) trails Malkin (39) for the team scoring lead and has registered six multi-point performances in his last 11 games. One of the many reasons the Penguins have turned things around after a rough stretch is their penalty-killing, which is 26-for-27 over the last 10 contests.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (22-17-4): Tampa Bay has lost just once in five games since Palat returned to the lineup after his second stint on injured reserve this season, and the left wing produced a goal and two assists in the 4-0 win over Colorado on Tuesday. Namestnikov has recorded five assists and a plus-7 rating over his last three contests and shares the team lead with defenseman Victor Hedman at plus-12. Nikita Kucherov tops the club with 34 points and has notched 21 of them in the last 17 games.
1. Pittsburgh C Nick Bonino suffered a hand injury at Carolina on Tuesday and is expected to miss at least a month.
2. The Lightning are just 10-8-2 at home this season after going 32-8-1 in 2014-15.
3. The Penguins have won 11 of the last 12 meetings but dropped a 4-3 decision at Tampa Bay last season.
PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Lightning 3