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Lightning host Coyotes seeking to end struggles
(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Tampa Bay Lightning will try to pick up their first win since Steven Stamkos returned to the lineup last week, as the club gets set to host the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
The Lightning have lost their last four games and the last two have come with newly-named captain Stamkos in the lineup.
Stamkos, who was awarded the "C" after Tampa traded captain Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers last Wednesday, had missed 45 games with a broken right tibia before returning on Thursday. The 24-year-old sniper has failed to register a point and is a minus-3 in two games since coming back from his broken leg.
In addition to losing four in a row, the Lightning have dropped nine of their last 12 games. The funk has Tampa Bay holding on to the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, but the Bolts are only three points ahead of ninth-seeded Columbus in the East.
The Lightning dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to visiting Boston on Saturday. Tampa blew a 2-0 lead in the setback, marking the second time in three games the Bolts held a 2-0 advantage and lost.
"We got a point out of it. But we keep giving up these leads," Stamkos said. "When we're in a slide like this, you take any points you can get. We obviously want two, but we'll start with one and keep progressing."
Reilly Smith scored in the seventh-round of the shootout to lift the Bruins to the win. After Richard Panik hit the right post, Smith skated in and used a head fake before drawing the puck to his backhand, then sneaking in the forehand for the win.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist in the loss, with Mark Barberio and Valtteri Filppula also scoring for the Lightning. Ben Bishop stopped 29 shots.
"The last couple of games we've had a lead and let the opponents come back," said Palat. "Same thing happened again tonight. We take the lead, they score, we get the lead back then we let them tie it."
Tampa fell to 0-1-1 on its six-game homestand and is 17-8-4 as the host this season.
Phoenix also managed to waste a 2-0 lead in its last game, dropping a 3-2 decision Saturday at Washington. The Coyotes had won two straight before beginning a four-game road trip with the setback against the Capitals.
The Coyotes carried a 2-0 lead into the third period but then allowed Washington to score three unanswered goals in the final stanza.
Brandon McMillan and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes, who have now dropped five in a row on the road (0-3-2). Mike Smith made 30 saves, but allowed three goals on 14 shots in the third period.
"It seemed like we stopped playing the way we played in the first and the second," said Vrbata. "When you have a 2-0 lead going into the third you have to find a way to win, and we didn't."
The Coyotes have lost five of their last seven games overall, but enter Monday only three points out of a playoff spot in the West.
Phoenix has lost in four of five and six of its last eight trips to Tampa. The Lightning have claimed four of six and 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.
03/10 11:25:56 ET