Tampa Bay Lightning (24-12-4) at Calgary Flames (14-20-6)
|Date & Time||Friday January 3, 2014, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Calgary Flames +105 / Tampa Bay Lightning -116 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
After two consecutive losses the Tampa Bay Lightning got their lengthy road trip off to a very good start with a big time win in Vancouver over the Canucks on Wednesday. Four straight and seven of eight games are on the road for the Lightning and heading into the year it looked like this might be a stretch that could really cripple them. Instead we've seen this Lightning team exceed all expectations and with Steven Stamkos nearing a return they should only get better. Their starting goaltender Ben Bishop got snubbed from Team USA for the Olympics next month in Sochi but that might not be the worst thing in the world for the Lightning. Secretly the club was probaly hoping that Bishop would be given time to rest during the break as this is the first season he's really a true No. 1 over the course of an 82 game season. Bishop allowed two goals in the second period on Wednesday night but was flawless other than that in the 4-2 win over the Canucks. Valtteri Filppula and Tyler Johnson gave the Lightning the lead after Vancouver went on 1-0, and Nikita Kucherov broke a 2-2 tie with a power play goal that proved to be the game winner with just three seconds left in the second period. Alexander Killorn added his 10th goal of the season in the third period to help seal the win. Getting Stamkos back in the lineup is just going to make this club that much more dangerous and that's a scary thought. Not only have the Lightning been able to survive Stamkos' absence but they're currently in second place in the difficult Atlantic Division. Things haven't been quite as rosy for Brian Burke and the Calgary Flames. We all know that when Burke gets his hands on an organization that he has a clear vision but that doesn't mean it's easy getting the club to that point. The Flames have lost seven of their last eight games with the only win oddly enough coming against the St. Louis Blues. Calgary has scored just one goal over their last three games, getting shutout twice by Edmonton and Vancouver and falling by a final of 4-1 to the Flyers on Tuesday night. The Flames have all the marking of a bad hockey club and it doens't appear to be getting better any time soon. If Calgary has any chance in this one they need to stay out of the penalty box because that Lightning power play can be lethal and can put you in a deficit in a real hurry. Tampa Bay isn't going to be perfect on this trip and this is a game they could certainly be looking beyond with what's coming up on the rest of this road trip. Calgary doesn't have too many situations where they're in a good spot to get a win so this might be just what they need on Friday night.