Preview: Lightning finish up 2-game road trip in Canada against Senators
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who joined the NHL as expansion cousins in 1992-93, are franchises going in different directions when they meet Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre.
It will be the 2,000th regular-season game for each.
The Lightning (9-3-1), coming off a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, are among the favorites in the Eastern Conference this season and are in first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Senators (5-6-2), who had a promising start to a rebuilding season only to struggle lately, were crushed 9-2 by the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon and have lost five of their past six games. They have given up 30 goals in that stretch.
The Lightning are trying to cope without Norris Trophy winning defenseman Victor Hedman, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury. The Lightning are 2-2-0 without him. His status will be updated early this week.
Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves for his seventh win of the season against the Canadiens, but is expected to get the night off against the Senators. Louis Domingue will likely make his fourth appearance of the season. He is 2-1-0 with a 4.00 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who scored his third and fourth goals of the season against the Canadiens, credited Vasilevskiy with the win.
“We knew what to expect coming in,” Stamkos told NHL.com. “They were going to come out hard and they did, that’s why we have arguably the best goalie in the world on our team to give us a chance sometimes to catch our breath. And then after that I thought we did a good job of playing the right way.”
The Lightning will be looking for a better start against the Senators than they had against Montreal.
“It was a tough start for us,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told the league website. “We must have thought it was a 7:30 start instead of a 7 o’clock.”
Goaltender Craig Anderson will be back in goal for the Senators against the Lightning. He was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots behind a porous defense Saturday. The Sabres were fired up after a pre-game ceremony honoring Sabres forward Jason Pominville for playing his 1,000th game in the NHL on Thursday.
After giving up 41 shots Saturday, the Senators are last in the NHL in shots allowed at 38.7 per game.
“I think collectively, we weren’t ready for the emotional level that they had,” Senators coach Guy Boucher told NHL.com. “They came out as strong as we’ve seen all year and most probably because the players wanted to have a great night for Pominville.”
“We’re obviously not the first team to do it, we’re obviously not going to be the last, but those can’t happen more than once in a season let alone a week,” Senators forward Mark Stone told NHL.com. “In the Arizona game (a 5-1 loss on Tuesday) and this game, we were just flat coming out of the gate. Didn’t give ourselves a chance from the opening puck drop.”
Ottawa has posted an all-time record of 899-837-115-148 over 1,999 games. The Lightning are 853-896-112-138 and have the lone Stanley Cup victory among the franchises, winning in 2004.