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After getting off to a good start on their longest trip of the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning try to continue their road success on Saturday against a Florida Panthers team that has been tough to beat at the BankAtlantic Center.
The Lightning (37-25-4) opened their six-game trip on Thursday with a 5-4 shootout victory over Washington as goalie Johan Holmqvist stopped all 10 attempts before Nick Tarnasky scored the lone shootout goal.
"Tonight it was a long one. ... I was just trying to stay focused," said Holmqvist, who is 13-3-2 with a 2.52 goals-against average since Jan. 7. "I barely wanted to watch our guys. I was trying to stay in the zone and be ready for the next one."
Tampa Bay improved to 10-1 in shootouts and Holmqvist is 6-0 in the tiebreaker, stopping 26 of 27 attempts.
The Lightning are in first place in the Southeast Division, and their recent play on the road as them in position to win their third division title in the last four seasons.
They have earned a point in 11 of their last 12 games away from home, going 10-1-1 in that span. Tampa Bay's overtime loss in that stretch came to the Panthers, who won 5-4 on Feb. 17.
Florida (26-26-13) is 2-1-0 against the Lightning at home this season and 11-2-3 there overall since Dec. 21. Tampa Bay, though, leads the season series 3-1-1.
Martin St. Louis has four goals and three assists against Florida this season. He scored a goal and assisted on two Thursday, giving him seven goals and nine assists in his last 10 games.
Although Holmqvist has been solid in net for the Lightning lately, he is 1-1-1 with a 4.00 GAA against the Panthers this year. Marc Denis is 2-0-0 with a 1.44 GAA against Florida.
Denis is 4-0-0 with a 3.27 GAA in his last six games, but was pulled in his last start against Boston on Feb. 23 after allowing two goals on seven shots.
Florida defeated Dallas 2-1 in overtime on Thursday for its third straight win. Olli Jokinen scored the game-winning goal and Ed Belfour made 33 saves to lead the Panthers.
"Overall, it was one of the better games we've played," said Jokinen, who has six goals and eight assists in seven home games against the Lightning since last season. "It was a solid team game. Everybody showed up. That's what we need the rest of the year if we want to go anywhere."
Jokinen has five goals and two assists during the winning streak for the Panthers, who have not won four straight since a seven-game run from March 17-29 last season.
Florida is 6-1-2 since Feb. 10, but is in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and in danger of missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
"We still have a little hope," Jozef Stumpel said. "We've got nothing to lose, just go out there and try to win."
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