Lightning-Panthers Preview

The Florida Panthers have done an outstanding job containing

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in two meetings with the Tampa

Bay Lightning this season.

Not surprisingly, they have two wins as a result.

Florida will try to complete an already successful six-game

homestand with another victory Friday night against the


The biggest reason for Tampa Bay’s success this season has been

the potent combination of Stamkos and St. Louis, who both rank

among the league’s top scorers with 65 and 57 points, respectively.

Stamkos leads the NHL with 37 goals and is one point behind Sidney

Crosby for the league lead.

Both of Tampa Bay’s top scorers have been kept in check by

Florida (21-20-4) this season, combining for no goals and one

assist. Tomas Vokoun beat the Lightning (28-15-5) 6-0 at home Oct.

16, and the Panthers prevailed 4-3 on the road in a shootout Nov.


Stamkos and St. Louis combined for seven goals and five assists

in the 2009-10 season series as Tampa Bay went 3-3-0.

Limiting Stamkos again may be difficult with the star center in

the midst of another torrid stretch. He extended his goal streak to

four games with two more scores in a 3-2 shootout win at Atlanta on


Stamkos, who had goals in a career-high seven straight Feb.

13-March 11, has back-to-back multigoal games for the first


“I just go to the net,” Stamkos said. “That’s something I’m

trying to focus on this year. You just go to the net and get the

dirty goal.”

Dwayne Roloson turned in his second consecutive strong

performance in net, helping the Lightning remain one point ahead of

Washington for the Southeast Division lead.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher could go with backup Dan Ellis

instead of starting Roloson on back-to-back nights. Ellis, though,

has lost his last two starts – allowing four goals in each – after

a 4-0-1 run.

Florida blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game in a

3-2 overtime loss to visiting Columbus on Wednesday, giving up the

tying goal with 53 seconds left in regulation before R.J. Umberger

scored on a power play late in the extra period.

On Monday, the Panthers lost to Atlanta in a shootout after

allowing two goals in the final two minutes of regulation.

“This is a repeat of a lot of other nights,” coach Peter DeBoer

said. “We get the lead, have some opportunities to extend it, we

don’t, and the other team pushes back. We lose our composure in the

last few minutes of the game. That’s the story, it’s blown


Despite DeBoer’s frustration, his club has matched a season high

with points in five consecutive games (3-0-2) – all at home.

Florida is 7 for 22 on the power play during that span after

scoring one goal with the man advantage in its previous 21


Vokoun returned to the lineup against Columbus after sitting the

previous three games and allowed at least three goals for the

fourth straight start. He is 4-0-0 with a 1.72 goals-against

average, though, in his past four games against Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are 7-2-2 at home against the Lightning since the

start of the 2007-08 season.