By: David Kolb
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (5-4-0) @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS (4-5-0)
RENEWING A NEW RIVALRY
This is the first time the two clubs will meet since their second round playoff series last spring. Both postseason games at Barclays Center were tight, hard-hitting contests ending in overtime wins for the Bolts. The Isles will face a motivated Lightning club tonight, after they were embarrassed at The Garden on Sunday, falling 6-1 to the New York Rangers.
ALL EYES ON STAMKOS & KUCHEROV
The Islanders will be best served if defenseman Travis Hamonic is on the ice each time the Steven Stamkos-Nikita Kucherov duo hop over the boards. The two rank one and two in scoring for the Lightning, as Stamkos has ten points (6-4-10) while Kucherov has eight (1-7-8). The pair combined on a third period power play goal Sunday at The Garden.
KEEPING 91 FROM 77
Isles captain John Tavares tallied an assist on Sunday against the Leafs and enters tonight’s game with three goals and two assists in his past four contests. Tonight, Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano will attempt to out-maneuver his counterpart, Tampa coach Jon Cooper, keeping Tavares away from stud defenseman Victor Hedman, who has five points in nine games, and is averaging 23:56 of ice time per game.
Forward Brock Nelson is centering the Isles’ second line replacing Frans Nielsen, who left for Detroit via free agency this past summer. Nelson has thrived in his new role and leads the Islanders in scoring with three goals and six assists for nine points in nine games. No. 29 had success last year against the Bolts, netting two goals and an assist in three games.