Last season the New York Islanders had Tampa Bay's number. New York took three of its four meeting with theTampa Bay Lightning, a small bright spot in an otherwise dreary season that saw the Islanders finish in an all-too-familiar spot -- the bottom of the Atlantic Division.
One storyline to watch is the health of Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, who left practice on Wednesday after an errant puck struck him in the face. Details via Newsday:
Brian Rolston's slap shot caught DiPietro in the mask right at his temple, denting the goaltender's head protection and sending him off the ice quickly.
DiPietro's has played only 39 games the last three seasons because of an assortment of hip, knee and facial surgeries, the last coming in February to repair broken bones suffered in a fight with Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson.
To be able to return from that injury, which left him with a metal plate in his face, DiPietro switched back to a 1980s, cage-style mask.
New York catches a break in this meeting as the Lightning are closing out a tough road trip to open the season. Tampa Bay has not yet played a home game, the result of a renovation project to the St. Pete Forum, which put them on the road for the first five games of the season. But Tampa has had two days off since losing 6-5 shootout to the Capitals.
For more on the Islanders, head over to Lighthouse Hockey.