The Tampa Bay Lightning are ultimately looking to make their
first postseason appearance since 2007, but have dropped two
straight to teams loaded with playoff experience.
The Southeast-leading Lightning will try to avoid extending that
streak Saturday night when they welcome the last-place Florida
Despite falling 4-3 in a shootout to Philadelphia on Tuesday and
6-2 to Detroit two nights later, Tampa Bay (34-18-6) is still 8-3-1
since Jan. 18 and has won five of nine on a 12-game homestand that
matches the longest in NHL history. The Lightning own a four-point
lead over Washington in the division.
Tampa Bay hasn’t won the Southeast since 2003-04, and captain
Vincent Lecavalier said the team cannot dwell on the recent
“We’ve got to learn from this,” he said. “Our standards have to
be even higher.”
The Lightning, who are 1-1-1 against Florida this season,
haven’t lost three in a row since Nov. 11-14.
Steven Stamkos had an assist against the Red Wings, giving him
nine to go along with nine goals since Jan. 14. He continues to
lead with league with 40 goals and 75 points – one more than
Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin.
However, Stamkos has just two assists in three games against the
Panthers this season. He’s notched four goals and four assists in
six career matchups at home versus Florida, helping Tampa Bay to a
3-0-2 record when he has at least one point.
Tampa Bay may have veteran defenseman Eric Brewer in the lineup
after acquiring the former St. Louis captain in a trade Friday.
Brewer has eight goals and six assists in 54 games this season, and
will be expected to help a defense that is 25th in the league with
182 goals allowed.
If Tampa Bay is to get back in the win column, then facing
Florida (24-26-7) may make that task somewhat easier.
Florida, which is 12th in the East, fell for the fourth time in
five games with a 4-3 loss to the Red Wings on Friday. After
Detroit broke a 3-3 tie with 7:32 remaining, Stephen Weiss nearly
evened the score with 27.8 seconds to play, but was denied by Joey
Weiss had a goal and an assist, ending a three-game stretch
without a point for the Panthers’ top scorer.
“You’ve got to give guys credit for coming back and giving a
good effort, but at the same time it’s frustrating that we’re not
getting the results and the wins and more points. Tough one,”
defenseman Bryan Allen said.
After wrapping up a 1-3-1 homestand, the Panthers hope for
better results as they begin a four-game swing. Florida is 12-15-1
away from home, but has picked up at least one point in five of its
last nine road contests.
Florida routed Tampa Bay 6-0 on Oct. 16, however the last two
meetings have gone to shootouts, including a 4-3 victory on Nov. 27
at the St. Pete Times Forum.