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Offensive troubles were a large reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning failed to repeat as Stanley Cup champions last season. Their overall struggles against the Florida Panthers also played a role.
The in-state rivals play the second game of a home-and-home series on Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum following Florida's 3-2 win on Friday.
Tampa Bay (1-3-0) was outshooting opponents 91-55 in its first three games of the season, but the team has still scored just seven goals - tied with Ottawa for the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay's offensive struggles seem to have carried over from last season, when the 2003-04 Stanley Cup winners were outscored 260-252.
They also lost six of eight meetings to Florida last season, the most losses for the Lightning against any team they faced.
Ryan Craig leads the Lightning with four goals, but has not received much support from the rest of the team, including top offensive threats Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.
Lecavalier led Tampa Bay in goals in 2005-06 (35), while Richards led the team in assists (68) and points (91). The duo has been quiet this season, however. Lecavalier's goal on Friday was his first of the season, while Richards only has one assist.
Further hurting the team is its struggles with the man advantage. The Lightning are 1-for-27 on the power play this season, including 0-for-20 in the last three games.
"We have to get that going," forward Martin St. Louis said. "It's costing us games. It's frustrating but we can't feel sorry for ourselves."
With Friday's loss, the Lightning have lost seven of their last eight road games against the Panthers. Tampa Bay scored on Lecavalier's goal 1:18 into the game, but fell behind at the end of the period after Juraj Kolnik and Nathan Horton each scored for the Panthers (3-1-1), who have an Eastern Conference-leading 18 goals this season.
After Craig tied the game in the second period for the Lightning, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored the game-winning goal on a power play nine minutes into the third period.
"It was right off a faceoff and I just tried to get it on the net and see what happens," Bouwmeester said. "It went in, so that's good."
The Panthers are looking to transfer some of their success at home to the road. The team has won all three of its home games, and has outscored opponents 17-8, but is just 0-2 away from home while getting outscored 8-1.
Olli Jokinen's two assists Friday gave him five assists and eight points for the season. Jokinen has 15 goals - his most against any opponent - and 15 assists in 34 career games against the Lightning.
Florida is 4-8 with two ties against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum since the start of the 2000-01 season.
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