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The last two games have provided further proof that the Tampa Bay Lightning are still a team searching for a No. 1 goaltender.
The Lightning hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak in almost three months Wednesday night when they continue a six-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers.
Johan Holmqvist was given a chance to redeem himself Tuesday at Vancouver after allowing two goals on two shots before he was pulled in a 6-2 loss Saturday to Florida.
Homqvist, though, was only marginally better, yielding five goals on 28 shots in a 5-1 loss. He surrendered three goals on eight shots in the third period, one after he gave away the puck behind his own net to Bryan Smolinski, who scored on a soft backhand from a sharp angle.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his league-leading and franchise-record 43rd goal, but Tampa Bay (37-27-4) was held to a season-low 17 shots. With their third loss in four games, the Lightning dropped two points behind Southeast Division-leading Atlanta into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
"There's no excuses here, they outplayed us," coach John Tortorella said. "We had chances to take shots and didn't. When we did try to create offense, they played well defensively. Bottom line is they're the better team tonight."
Holmqvist and backup Marc Denis have both struggled on the road lately. Holmqvist has allowed 16 goals on 87 shots in his last four road games, while Denis has given up four goals or more in three of his past four contests away from St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay hasn't lost three straight since a four-game skid from Dec. 9-16, but is just 3-7-0 all-time in Edmonton.
Currently 13 points out of a playoff spot with 16 games remaining, the Oilers (30-30-6) likely will miss the playoffs for second time in three seasons.
It wasn't enough to avoid their fourth straight loss, but Edmonton did end the third-longest scoring drought in team history Saturday in a 4-2 loss to rival Calgary.
Fernando Pisani's goal at 9:27 of the first period ended the drought at 142:36, just 14:05 short of the franchise record.
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish felt his team was much better Saturday than it was in two listless performances right after leading scorer Ryan Smyth was traded last week.
"We're having a tough time winning hockey games, that much is obvious," he said. "But I think we had more action around the net than we've had in about three or four games. It's disappointing to lose the hockey game but I thought we played much better."
Pisani, who has all of Edmonton's three goals in the past four games, agreed that the Oilers made progress.
"It was important to get our legs going and skating and get physical and to get back to the things we need to do well as a team," he said. "I thought we played well, we just made some mistakes at some bad times."
The Oilers lost their best player when they traded Smyth to the New York Islanders, and now could be without second-leading scorer Ales Hemsky, who left Saturday's game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return.
The Lightning have two straight 3-2 wins over the Oilers after losing the previous six meetings.
|Mar 07 '07||TBL 3 at EDM 1|
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