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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 23rd (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (7-16-9) at Pittsburgh Penguins (18-11-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to avoid their fourth consecutive loss when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Mellon Arena.

The Lightning are tied with the New York Islanders for last in the Eastern Conference with 23 points apiece. In addition to losing its last three games, Tampa Bay has dropped 12 of its last 13 games.

Tampa is also just 2-9-5 since Rick Tocchet took over as head coach on an interim basis for the fired Barry Melrose.

The Bolts were handed a close loss their last time out, as the Atlanta Thrashers earned a 4-3 home triumph over Tampa this past Saturday. Kari Lehtonen made his first appearance in almost two months and stopped 36 shots to help the Thrashers pick up the win at Philips Arena.

Martin St. Louis scored twice and Adam Hall had a goal for the Lightning, while Mike Smith was charged with all four goals on 30 shots.

Tampa has a dismal 4-10-3 mark as the visiting team this year and has lost 10 of its last 11 on the road. The Lightning are playing the middle portion of a three-game road trip tonight and will complete the swing Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series with the rival Florida Panthers.

The Penguins, meanwhile, are coming off Monday's dramatic win in Buffalo. Sidney Crosby's deflection goal 43 seconds into overtime sent Pittsburgh past the Sabres, 4-3, at HSBC Arena.

Early in the extra session, Alex Goligoski gained control of the puck in the left circle and slipped a bouncing pass to the right circle for Evgeni Malkin. His fluttering one-timer knuckled toward the crease, where Crosby tipped it home with his stick just below the crossbar.

For the Penguins captain, it was his first score in 10 games, dating back to a hat trick on November 29 against the New Jersey Devils.

Goligoski picked up two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who rallied from two goals down to win for the third time in five games. Pascal Dupuis also tallied and Malkin added three helpers.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves to earn his 10th win of the season.

Malkin extended his point streak to nine games and has five goals and 14 assists during that run. The Russian also leads the NHL with 58 points this year on 15 goals and 43 assists. Crosby is second in the league with 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists).

The Penguins are 8-5-2 as the host this year, but have lost two of their last three at the Igloo.

Tonight's test marks the first of four meetings between Pittsburgh and the Lightning this season. The Pens took three out of four encounters last season, but Tampa has still won 13 of the last 16 matchups in this series.

12/23 10:56:14 ET


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