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Lightning-Panthers Preview

Monday, 03.11.2013 / 4:14 PM

TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA

Season Series: This is the third of five meetings between the two in-state rivals. Tampa Bay took each of the first two contests, earning a 5-2 victory at home on January 29, and following that up with an encore performance on February 16, coming from behind in the third period to pull out a 6-5 win in Sunrise. The clubs will face off again on April 2 and April 27 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Big Story: The Lightning lead the Panthers by a single point in the Southeast Division, with Tuesday's game crucial in terms of positioning in the standings. With a victory, the Bolts can move up in the standings, gaining separation from Florida, while inching closer to both Winnipeg and Carolina. The Panthers, meanwhile, should they earn a victory, would climb out of last place and jump the Bolts in the standings.

Team Scope:

LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays its only road game this week before coming back to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host three straight contests beginning Thursday. The Lightning fell for a second consecutive time on Saturday night, surrendering a 3-1 lead in the third period only to fall to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-3. Steven Stamkos increased his league-leading goal total to 19, while Sami Salo and Ryan Malone also scored, but goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, despite making 25 saves, gave up three goals to the Canadiens in approximately the final 16 minutes of regulation to register the loss in what was just his first NHL start since January 1, 2011.

PANTHERS – Florida hosts the Lightning to wrap up a three-game home stand. The Panthers enter Tuesday's game looking to snap a three-game skid during which they have scored no more than two goals in each contest. On Sunday, Florida dropped a 5-2 contest to the Canadiens, who one night after beating the Lightning, completed a two-game sweep through the Sunshine State. Tomas Kopecky and Shawn Matthias each scored for the Panthers, while Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves, but it perhaps came too late as the Canadiens had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second period.

Who's Hot: Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has registered goals in all but one of his past five contests and has points in 12 of his past 13 contests dating back to February 14. Martin St. Louis is also enjoying a six-game point streak with a pair of goals and nine points in that span. For the Panthers, Shawn Matthias has points in four straight games, including three goals.

Injury Report:

LIGHTNING – Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Mathieu Garon (Lower Body, Day-To-Day).

PANTHERS – Jose Theodore (Groin), Stephen Weiss (Wrist), Scottie Upshall (Lower Body), Dmitry Kulikov (Hand), Mike Weaver (Lower Body) and Ed Jovanovski (Knee).

Connections: Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim spent the 2010-11 season with the Lightning and played an integral role in the team's lengthy postseason run throughout the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Twitter Stat Pack:

Steven Stamkos has a seven-game goal scoring streak against Florida, tied with Mario Lemieux for longest all-time against the Panthers.

Martin St. Louis has notched a point in six straight games against the Panthers, collecting four goals and six assists during that stretch.

Anders Lindback is 2-0-0 against the Panthers this season and he registered his first career NHL shutout against them on Dec. 11, 2010.

Martin St. Louis has also recorded three multi-point games over his past four contests.

The Lightning have picked up a point in six straight games on the road against the Panthers, going 4-0-2 during that stretch.

Notable Quotable: "Half our team wasn't here last year and we got some guys who are rookies, and last year we built our confidence by winning those close ones. This season, honestly, I'm surprised. We're progressing, but we're losing those close games, so it's a mental thing." – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on the difference between last season and this season regarding the team's performance in one-goal games

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