Ottawa (4-5-1) at Tampa Bay (3-3-3), 7:30 pm EDT
TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Steven Stamkos finally has arrived,
and so have the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Behind their prize prospect's surge, the suddenly inspired
Lightning look for their third straight victory when they host
the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The top overall pick in last June's draft, Stamkos scored two
goals - the first and second of his career - and added an assist
as the Lightning cruised to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on
Thursday - their third in four games.
The 18-year-old Stamkos was held scoreless in his first seven
career games before notching an assist in Tuesday's victory over
Toronto. Tampa Bay had recorded just one win over its first
seven contests, but new coach Barry Melrose finally has gotten
his lifeless team to produce the way so many thought it would
prior to the season.
Thursday marked the first time this campaign the Lightning have
scored more than three goals in a game. They will look for
similar results in the midst of playing seven of eight on the
Olaf Kolzig made 29 saves on Thursday in place of Mike Smith,
who has been impressive all season. The 26-year-old Smith is
second in the league in save percentage (.942) and fifth in
goals-against average (2.11) in six games.
Since losing four in a row, the Senators have won two straight.
However, their shoddy play in the season's first month has been
a stark contrast from 2007-08, when they began 9-1-0.
Alex Auld has started four straight games while Martin Gerber
has been nursing a leg injury. In that span, Auld has yielded
three goals or fewer three times.
Auld has been supported immensely by his team's first line.
Jason Spezza highlighted Ottawa's 5-2 win over Buffalo on Monday
with two goals and an assist. On Thursday, Dany Heatley scored
a power-play goal and captain Daniel Alfredsson added an assist
after signing a four-year extension earlier in the day as the
team held on for a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.