Home challenge; Tampa Bay Lightning versus New York Islanders preview

The Bolts make a brief stop at the Tampa Bay Times Forum -- a two game stint -- before heading back out on the road. Tonight they face the New York Islanders, the second matchup between the two clubs this season.

Where:  Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
When: 7:30 p.m. EST  | Tickets: Check availability
Media:  Television: Sunsports/MSG PLUS  | Radio: 970 AM WFLA
Opponent Coverage: Lighthouse Hockey, NYI Point Blank

The Tampa Bay Lightning (28-15-4) are back home and host the Islanders (18-23-7) on Thursday night for the first of two meetings between the clubs at the Forum. Tampa Bay defeated New York 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 17. The Lightning have had recent success on the road however getting a win at home has been a challenge for Tampa Bay, as the team currently rides a three-game losing streak at the Forum.

LIGHTNING: With the 2-1 win on Tuesday night, the Lightning jumped into first place in the Atlantic Division with 60 points on the season (tied with the Boston Bruins). In his first game returning from injury, goaltender Ben Bishop showed why he should be a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy (too early? nah). Bishop saved 33 shots and earned his 23rd victory of the season.

With his goal against the Rangers, Victor Hedman tied his career-best in points per season with 26 and became the fifth Lightning defensemen to score 10 goals this season. Thursday's game against the Islanders will mark the young defensemen's 300th game in the National Hockey League.

By week's end, the Lightning will have played five games with a total of four back-to-backs. Tampa Bay will host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 before they head to Raleigh, North Carolina to face the Carolina Hurricanes.

Who's in/out: The biggest news coming out of Brandon, Fl this morning was the fact that Steven Stamkos participated in his first full morning skate since his injury. He also participated in various shooting drill this morning. He is still skating in a red, no contact jersey though.

Sami Salo is expected to be back in the lineup tonight. Expect B.J. Crombeen and Andrej Sustr to be scratched as well. Other scratches won't be announced until game time of course.

ISLANDERS: The Isles broke their seven-game road winning streak (2nd in franchise history) on Tuesday as they were handed a 4-2 to the Florida Panthers. But, New York has tried turning their season around after going 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. However, they remain the bottom feeders of the Metropolitan Division with 43 points.

INJURIES: Lightning - D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Islanders - G Evgeni Nabokov (lower body, out)

Other Previews

When will Steven Stamkos return from injured reserve?

Before the end of January43
Before the Olympic break in February123
After the Olympic break50