Blue Jackets to host Lightning team struggling on road
The Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping the turn of the calendar will help them fix a power-play that was the NHL’s second-worst in November.
They could get plenty of chances against a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has spent plenty of time in the penalty box lately.
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The Lightning look to end a four-game road slide Tuesday night when they face the Blue Jackets, who have been victimized numerous times in the past by Tampa Bay newcomer Valtteri Filppula.
Tampa Bay (16-9-1) is 0-3-1 in its last four on the road and closed out November with a 3-0 home defeat to Pittsburgh last Friday. The Lightning converted at 9.1 percent on the power play in that month to finish ahead of only Dallas’ 7.3 mark.
“I feel like we haven’t scored on the power play and that’s the main thing,” Filppula told the Lightning’s official website. “We need to be able to score. The power play, as well as the penalty kill, are really important.”
Filppula totaled 17 points against the Blue Jackets over the previous three seasons with Detroit. Only Nashville’s Shea Weber has more in that span with 19.
Columbus (10-14-3) has been short-handed 13 times in its last two games, although it has only yielded two power-play goals. The penalties haven’t helped their cause, as the Blue Jackets were outshot 36-14 in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Boston.
“Including myself, I think we took a couple of bad penalties tonight and it cost us and gave them some momentum,” center Ryan Johansen said. “And things like that you can’t be doing against good hockey teams.”
The Blue Jackets will have Brandon Dubinsky back after the center missed six games due to an injured foot. Dubinsky has 15 points to rank third on the Blue Jackets, who will still be without stars Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton.
The Lightning probably don’t have much sympathy since they are 4-4-1 without injured star Steven Stamkos.
“I think we’ve been playing well,” Filppula said. “I think there’s some things obviously we need to improve. One message was trying to spend more times in the opponent’s zone. We worked on it a little bit today and hopefully we can play better tomorrow.”
Martin St. Louis has taken over the team lead in points with 24 in Stamkos’ absence, but he has none in four of his last five efforts. St. Louis has eight in a six-game streak versus Columbus.
He will likely take aim at Sergei Bobrovsky, who was rested Saturday.
Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop has faced Columbus once while backup goalie Anders Lindback has never done so.
This figures to be a low-scoring contest since these teams do not shoot much. Tampa Bay averages 27.9 shots on goal and Columbus 27.1 to rank among the league’s lowest figures.
The Blue Jackets will be looking for offense from Johansen, who has four goals and two assists over his last four games.