Following an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to the New York Rangers on Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning regrouped and finally headed back home to the much friendlier Tampa Bay Times Forum, where they will face off against the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
The Bolts have lost four straight to the Atlantic Division, including three in a row on the road, to fall to 6-5 on the season and yield the Southeast Division lead to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Their home and away splits tell the tale of two very different squads: at home, the Bolts are a near perfect 5-1, their sole loss a close 3-2 decision dropped to the same New York Rangers squad that ran all over the Bolts on Sunday.
On the road, they are a woeful 1-4, their only victory coming in Raleigh against the Hurricanes in the third game of the season.
The Bolts will now play two pairs of home games with a road tilt against the Florida Panthers sandwiched in the middle in an attempt to regain their early season form.
Following a tweak of some unknown injury during pregame warmups for the Rangers game, forward Ryan Malone will be out tonight and may miss weeks, rather than days. Syracuse Crunch winger Richard Panik has been called up the Lightning as a result and will likely make his NHL debut tonight at home against the Canadiens.
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) February 12, 2013
TB recalls Richard Panik from Crunch
— PS Syracuse Crunch (@PSCrunchHockey) February 11, 2013
That means in tonight's game against Montreal, three AHL regulars from a season ago will be playing for the Bolts, and none of them are Brett Connolly, who spent the entire season with the Lightning last year rather than being returned to his junior squad. The Bolts continue to go slow with his development following the growing pains for him a season ago.
Montreal is 6-4-1 on the season but also has struggled on the road; they are just 1-1-1 away from the Bell Centre.
The goaltending match-up will feature Anders Lindback for the Bolts and Carey Price for the Habs.
The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST.
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