Preview: Oilers vs. Lightning
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (20-28-12) at
EDMONTON OILERS (29-25-5)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/LIghtning Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINE-UP UPDATES: Zack Stortini slips in to the third line with Ethan Moreau and Andrew Cogliano, while Steve MacIntyre, Kyle Brodziak, and Liam Reddox combine on the fourth line... Jean-Francois Jacques and Marc Pouliot are not expected to play tonight.... Dwayne Roloson makes his 15th straight start in net.
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Edmonton Oilers play the second game of a four-game homestand tonight when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Rexall Place.
Wnless in their last three games, the Oilers are now on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference playoff race. They are one point behind the eighth-place Minnesota Wild at 63 points.
However, fifth and sixth spots are still within striking distance. Vancouver at 68 points is only five up on Edmonton and sixth-place Columbus is only three points up with the Oilers holding a game in hand on the Ohio squad.
In the Oilers' last game, Matthew Lombardi scored with 1:05 to go in the third period to tie the game at 2-2 and the Calgary Flames ended up winning 3-2 in the shootout.
Tampa Bay is a long way out of the playoffs right now in the Eastern Conference. At 52 points, they're 16 back of the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres.
The Lightning have only one win in their last five games but it happened in their last outing. They defeated the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-3 on Sunday.
This is the one and only meeting this season between Edmonton and Tampa Bay.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Having collected one point in their last three games following a three game winning streak, the Oilers will be eager to pick up two points tonight. Sitting tied for ninth position the team needs a win tonight to continue the upward movement in the Western Conference. One Oiler who can consistently be counted on for points is all-star Ales Hemsky
. Sitting at 19-31-51, Hemsky scored his most recent point in the third period of the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night. Having collected five points in his last five games, Hemsky is often the mastermind behind the Oilers goals. After a ten game pointless streak, Erik Cole has stepped up with two points in his last three games. Sitting at 14-10-24 this season, Cole scored the game’s first goal on Saturday night to give his team the lead. With two injured defenceman, Sheldon Souray
has clocked an average of 29:08 in his last four games, including a 31:43 minute game on Saturday. Not only has he been a strong defensive presence in the Oilers zone, he’s also scored four points in as many games including the game winner on February 16th at Phoenix. Dwayne Roloson has now played in 42 games this season with 20 wins to his credit. Roloson continues to be a solid last line of defence with 2.73 goals against average and .915 save percentage this season.
LIGHTNING TO WATCH:
The Lightning have won three of their last ten; expect them to arrive in Edmonton on Tuesday looking for a turn of the tide. Leading the team offensively with only two points separating the pair are Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis at 54 and 56 points respectively. NHL veteran, St Louis has collected six points in as many games and as solid +6 this season. Lecavalier, who was drafted first overall in 1998, is leading his team with 25 goals this season. He also has five goals in as many games, as well as five game winning goals this season. Nineteen year old Steven Stamkos made NHL history on February 17th when he became the second youngest player to ever record a hat trick. Stamkos is at 10-15-25 this season and also collected the game winning goal on February 12th versus the Maple Leafs. Defencemen Steve Eminger is leading the Lightning blueliners with 4-20-24 this season. He’s collected three points in his last five games and is second on the team in shots blocked with 89.
Edmonton—Denis Grebeshkov (high ankle sprain) is out. Lubomir Visnovsky (torn labrum) is out; Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. Tampa Bay—Jamie Heward (concussion) is out. Olaf Kolzig (upper body) is out. Mike Smith (upper body) is out. Andrej Meszaros (upper body) is out. Paul Ranger (upper body) is out. Marek Malik (lower body) is day-to-day. Lukas Krajicek (lower body) is day-to-day.
Tonight's game is the 1500th of trainer Ken Lowe's career with the Edmonton Oilers. A 28-year veteran of the athletic training profession, Lowe is in his 20th season with the Oilers. He joined the organization on July 6, 1989 and was a member of the 1990 Stanley Cup championship team. Lowe was also the athletic trainer for the Western Conference All-Stars at the 1997 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, California and the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, Quebec... This game marks the second in a four game homestand for the Oilers. At Rexall Place this season, the team has a 13-11-4 record. On the road they’ve had a bit more success with 16-14-4. The Oilers have reached the point in the season where every last point matters. In their last 10, they have won 4, lost 4 and lost 2 games in overtime.
Grebeshkov back sooner than expected
- After Monday's off-day skate, Sheldon Souray
, Shawn Horcoff
, and Craig MacTavish talk about the club's recent performances, the state of special teams, and Denis Grebeshkov's return to the ice. ...more
The Other Side - news from lightning.nhl.com
- Lightning TV: Glitz and Sticks - Lightning TV takes you around the 7th annual Glitz and Sticks, presented by BrightHouse Networks and Dex imaging, which took place on Sunday, February 15th. Fans had the chance to interact with Lightning players throughout the night. ...more
- Ramo gunning for full-time job in Tampa - No one on Tampa Bay doubts that Mike Smith, despite suffering from post-concussion syndrome that’s kept him out of the past few weeks, is the Lightning’s starting goaltender for the foreseeable future. What isn’t so certain ... ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Final Four Oilers faves up for bid - A three-day hunting trip, gift cards galore, and over a dozen autographed items -- including race car driving gloves -- are featured in the final Oilers Favourite Things packages to be auctioned off at Tuesday night's game. ...more
- Players, fans mingle at the mall - Boxing Day sized line-ups gathered at West Edmonton Mall for the ATB Financial Oilers Autograph Session on Sunday, February 22, and groups of eager fans mapped their way to meet their favourite Oilers and collect autographs. ...more
- This or that? With Dwayne Roloson - Stopping pucks takes a lot of skill, but we REALLY tested Dwayne Roloson's quick-thinking abilities by peppering him with 13 multiple choice questions on topics like late night talk shows and bodies of water. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
In the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers should be highly motivated. They haven't been playing with much intensity lately, though.
The Oilers look to break out of their offensive funk and avoid their longest losing streak in four months Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Edmonton (29-25-5) was in line to pick up two points Saturday against Northwest Division-leading Calgary, but settled for one as the Flames rallied for a 3-2 shootout victory to hand the Oilers their third straight loss.
Ales Hemsky and Erik Cole each scored for Edmonton, which allowed Calgary to tie the score with 1:05 remaining in regulation. The Oilers then managed just one shot in overtime and all three shootout participants failed to put a shot on goal.
"Over the course of 82 games you're going to lose a couple in the last minute or two," said center Shawn Horcoff, who assisted on both Edmonton goals. "We'll take the point and move on at this point in the season. We don't have any time to sit and dwell on negatives."
Edmonton, which has not lost four games in a row since a season-high five-game slide Oct. 22-30, dropped to ninth in the West, one point behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot.
A stagnating offense is the biggest reason for the Oilers' swoon. They've scored two goals in each of their last three games after tallying 13 while winning their previous three contests.
The lack of scoring has made things difficult for goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who is just 4-5-2 in 11 starts this month despite a solid 2.66 goals-against average.
The 11-year veteran stopped 18 shots in Edmonton's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay (20-28-12) on Jan. 22, 2008 - the last time these teams met.
The Oilers have lost four straight to the Lightning since a 3-2 road victory on March 6, 2002. They've lost the last two meetings in Edmonton.
Although the Lightning are 13th in the East and 16 points out of a playoff spot, they're refusing to give up.
Tampa Bay defeated conference-leading Boston 4-3 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak and win for just the third time in 12 games.
"We're a lot of points out of a playoff spot," said left wing Vaclav Prospal, who scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 1:33 left. "Right now, for us, it's just about playing hard every night and come out with an effort that will get us the win."
Karri Ramo made 40 saves as he continues to prove an effective replacement in goal after injuries to Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig. The Finland native has faced at least 40 shots in each of his last three starts, and turned aside 122 of 132 shots in those contests.
Tampa Bay, which hasn't won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak Jan. 19-27, now hopes to turn things around on the road.
The Lightning, who open a three-game trip Tuesday, have lost five straight away from Tampa Bay - getting outscored 21-8 in those games - since a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Jan. 12.