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Season Series: The two clubs square off for the fifth time of six total meetings on the season. After Florida took each of the first two matchups, including one at home and one on the road, Tampa Bay responded with a 4-3 shootout win back on Nov. 6 in Sunrise and tied the season series up last night at two games apiece with a 2-1 victory in overtime.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay and Florida conclude a back-to-back home and home series at the St. Pete Times Forum. With a win in regulation against the Panthers on Saturday night, and pending a regulation loss by Washington, the Lightning could pull to within four points of tying Florida for first place at the top of the Southeast Division.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returns home to face the Panthers for the second time in as many days. Following Saturday’s tilt against its division rivals, Tampa Bay will then play nine of its next 13 games on the road. Despite posting a record of just 4-6-2 in games away from home, Tampa Bay managed to collect a victory last night as the visitors, earning a 2-1 overtime victory in Sunrise. For the second time in as many games against Florida, the Bolts rallied back from a deficit to escape the BankAtlantic Center with two points. Vincent Lecavalier notched the game-tying goal to force the contest into the extra session before Steven Stamkos one-timed the game-winner while on the power play with 2:31 to go in the extra session. Mathieu Garon, in his first start since Nov. 12, made 23 saves to help Tampa Bay snap a two-game skid.
PANTHERS – Florida saw its three-game win streak snapped following Friday’s 2-1 defeat to the Bolts. The Panthers held a one-goal advantage heading into the third period, but let it slip away, allowing a pair of unanswered goals in the final 23 minutes, including overtime. Tomas Fleischmann scored the lone goal for Florida, who despite a 29-save effort from Jose Theodore, fell for the first time since losing 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 17.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos has goals in six of his past nine games and also has recorded an assist in three of his past five outings. Vincent Lecavalier also has recorded four goals in as many games entering Friday’s contest. Both scored for Tampa Bay in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers. Florida’s Stephen Weiss has seven points in his past four games and Tomas Fleischmann comes in riding a four-game point streak with three goals and three assists in that span.
PANTHERS – Marcel Goc (upper body), Scott Clemmensen (lower body), Mikael Samuelsson (groin, placed on Injured Reserve), Scottie Upshall (upper body, placed on Injured Reserve) and Matt Bradley (upper body, placed on Injured Reserve).
Notable Quotable: “I think it's just fallen into the trend with our overall whole game. It's been on and off this year. We've got to find a way to be consistent. We just have to make the right reads on the ice and try not to force things. It's the old cliche, but when things aren't going well, sometimes you try to force things when they're not there, and we may be guilty of that.” – Steven Stamkos, addressing the troubles of Tampa Bay’s power play, which conversely factored in to Friday’s 2-1 overtime win at Florida
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