Lightning-Wild Preview

A pair of wins powered by Steven Stamkos have the Tampa Bay

Lightning’s confidence growing.

The Minnesota Wild’s momentum may be waning as they sit on the

cusp of their longest slide of the season.

Stamkos looks for another strong offensive showing Monday night

against the Wild as the Lightning go for a third straight


Stamkos is second in the NHL with 14 goals and his 24 points

also rank among the league leaders. The All-Star center totaled

three goals and one assist during a home-and-home sweep of Florida

over the weekend, as Tampa Bay (11-9-2) followed Friday’s 2-1 win

with a 5-1 victory Saturday.

Stamkos had one goal and three assists during the Lightning’s

1-4-0 stretch prior to Thanksgiving.

“We’re just utilizing our speed, and we have confidence right

now,” Stamkos said. “When you get confidence, good things


Minnesota’s confidence has likely taken a hit after a sloppy

effort in a 5-2 loss to Calgary on Sunday following a defeat by the

same score to Edmonton two nights prior. The Wild (13-7-3) were on

a 10-2-0 run before those defeats to move near the top of the

Western Conference, and they haven’t dropped three straight all


“This can’t happen again. It’s about our effort and the way we

should play the game and support each other out here,” captain

Mikko Koivu said Sunday, “and it’s something we need to learn


Slow starts are posing a problem for the Wild, who have been

outscored 9-3 in the opening period over the last six games. Niklas

Backstrom, who had missed the previous three games while tending to

a personal matter, was pulled Sunday after giving up three tallies

on eight shots in 8:45.

Koivu, though, continues to provide scoring punch for Minnesota,

which is attempting to close out this six-game homestand above


The center has two goals and five assists during the homestand,

and he’s been productive all season at Xcel Energy Center, getting

12 of his team-leading 17 points in 13 games there – helping the

Wild go 8-4-1.

He has six points in seven career meetings with Tampa Bay,

including three in three home matchups.

Stamkos has four points in five games against the Wild, and

teammate Martin St. Louis is also looking to build on a strong

weekend after getting one goal and two assists against Florida.

His tally Saturday was his 300th for Tampa Bay, joining Vincent

Lecavalier (361) as the only Lightning players to reach the


“I’m proud of it,” St. Louis said. “I’m proud to say that I’ve

been on the same team for 11 years. If you told me 11 years ago I’d

score 300 goals, I would have paid money for that.”

St. Louis has a point in each of his last four meetings with


The teams split two meetings last season with the visitor

winning each time, including Tampa Bay’s 3-1 win in St. Paul on

April 2. Dwayne Roloson had 29 saves in that game, but Mathieu

Garon has started and won the last two games for the Lightning,

stopping 47 of 49 shots.

Despite last season’s defeat, the Wild hold a 4-2-0 edge on

Tampa Bay at home in the all-time series. Backstrom is 4-1-1 with a

1.80 goals-against average against the Lightning, while backup Josh

Harding has never faced them.