(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning look to stay in the hunt for first place in the Atlantic Division on Thursday night and avoid a season series sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.
The Lightning snapped a two-game skid with Saturday's 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers and sit two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place. Both clubs have two games remaining in the regular season and the Habs host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Montreal can clinch the division with a victory and any type of loss by Tampa Bay tonight. The Canadiens would also lock up the Atlantic crown with a point and a regulation setback by the Lightning.
Tampa Bay, which did clinch home-ice in the first round, got a pair of goals and an assist by Steven Stamkos in Saturday's win, while Ben Bishop made 34 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season and 12th of his career. Stamkos halted a seven-game goal drought and now has 42 tallies on the season, tied for second most in the NHL.
"I thought we played a complete game," said Bishop. "It was a full 60 minutes and we stuck in it. Once we got that lead, it was nice to get that second one, and kind of go from there."
Ryan Callahan and Tyler Johnson supplied the other goals for Tampa Bay, while Bishop set a franchise record and personal best with his 38th win of the season. He won 37 games a season ago.
Bishop is 3-2-0 in five career meetings with the Devils, posting a 1.17 goals against average and .958 save percentage. He has not faced them this season.
The Lightning are hoping to avoid getting swept in their three-game season series with the Devils, who have won four of the past five meetings overall.
Tampa Bay may get defenseman Victor Hedman back tonight from a three-game absence caused by a lower-body injury. He has practiced in each of the previous two days.
"I felt good yesterday and today, and I'm really hoping to be in the game tomorrow and that's been my goal," Hedman told Tampa Bay's website on Wednesday. "To get two games in before the playoffs starts is going to be huge for me I think. Very excited about tomorrow and hopefully I get the chance to play."
The Lightning remain without Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison on their blue line due to injury, while forward Alex Killorn (undisclosed) and Vladislav Namestnikov (illness) may sit out tonight as well.
The Devils are playing out the string and lost for the eighth time in nine games on Tuesday, falling 4-2 to the New York Rangers.
New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider bounced back from a dismal showing in Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, stopping 36-of-39 shots. He was pulled in that earlier meeting after giving up three goals on only six shots.
"There's certain teams that you may struggle against or you don't have success against, but when it's [the Rangers] it makes it worse," Schneider remarked.
Steve Bernier recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, while Patrik Elias had a power-play tally in defeat.
Tuesday was the Devils' home finale and they end their season on Saturday at the Panthers.
Schneider is 2-0-1 with a 3.23 GAA and .877 save percentage in three meetings with the Lightning.