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The Tampa Bay Lightning look to avoid a season high-tying third straight loss and pick up a rare road victory over the Florida Panthers when the teams meet for the third time this season Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay (10-10-1) beat the New York Islanders 3-2 in a shootout Friday for its fourth win in five games, but has since dropped back-to-back contests, including a 7-2 defeat at Buffalo on Monday.
The Lightning took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on the first of two goals by Martin St. Louis, but the Sabres scored seven times in the second on only 13 shots against beleaguered goalie Marc Denis, who was making just his second start in seven games.
"No one saw that coming," Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger said.
Denis has lost his last five starts and has a 4.82 goals-against average in six appearances since beating Carolina 5-1 on Oct. 26.
"The feeling is awful," said Denis, who began his first season with the Lightning with a 5-3-0 mark and 2.21 GAA. "I've been through one-sided games in my career, but I don't know if I've fished the puck out of my net seven times in such a short span."
Denis may get a chance to redeem himself Wednesday. He has a 1.23 GAA in losing just once in four career starts against Florida.
St. Louis leads the Lightning with 13 goals and scored once in Tampa Bay's 4-1 home win over Florida (8-10-4) on Oct. 14. The Panthers, though, beat the Lightning 3-2 at the BankAtlantic Center one night earlier to continue their home dominance of Tampa Bay.
Florida has won five straight at home over the Lightning, and is 21-6-2 with four ties there in the series. The Panthers are 6-4-1 at home this season, but have lost three of their last four at the BankAtlantic Center.
They won for just the second time in seven games Monday, 3-2 at Boston behind power-play goals from Martin Gelinas and Joe Nieuwendyk. Florida had been 4-for-24 with the man advantage in losing five of its previous six contests.
"It's always good to win on the road, especially the way we've been playing," Nieuwendyk said. "Tonight the difference was we played with a lead. We hadn't been doing that a lot."
Alex Auld made 29 saves to snap a personal seven-game losing streak.
"I thought the defense played well in front of me tonight, especially in the third period," he said. "We didn't give them many rebounds or second chances."
Florida has won seven of the last 10 meetings with Tampa Bay and is 35-19-2 with 10 ties all-time in the series.
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