Thursday, March 22, 2007

Game Preview: TB vs. NJ

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams struggling in March meet this evening at St. Pete Times Forum, as the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New Jersey Devils in a potential first-round playoff matchup.

The Devils are in first place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points and also hold the second seed in the Eastern Conference standings. However, New Jersey is just 3-4-2 this month and has allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to claw within two points of its division lead.

New Jersey's latest setback came in a close game at Toronto on Tuesday, as Mats Sundin assisted on both goals to lift the Maple Leafs to a 2-1 victory at Air Canada Centre.

The Lightning come into tonight with a 4-5-0 mark in March and are still fighting for a playoff berth in the East. Tampa has 84 points and is currently sixth in the conference, but the 11th-place New York Islanders are just five points in back of the Bolts.

Tampa Bay is coming off a win, however, as it defeated the visiting Isles, 4-3, on Tuesday thanks to Filip Kuba's goal just 55 seconds into overtime.

The Lightning are playing the second test of a five-game homestand tonight. They are 19-15-1 as the host club this year and have won seven of their last 10 tests at the Forum.

The Lightning have taken two of three meetings with New Jersey this year and tonight's contest marks the finale of the regular-season series. Tampa Bay is 9-3-2 (3 losses, 2 ties) in its last 14 encounters with the Devils

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