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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 23rd (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (4-0-0-0) at Columbus Blue Jackets (3-3-0-0), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning try to build on their best start ever tonight when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The 4-0 Bolts, the lone unbeaten club remaining in the National Hockey League, have disposed of Boston, Phoenix, New Jersey and Atlanta thus far, including a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Thrashers on Tuesday.

Pavel Kubina scored a shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway at 3:28 of OT to provide the heroics, and Cory Stillman added a pair of power-play goals. Nikolai Khabibulin made 35 saves for the Lightning, while Martin St. Louis notched two assists to give him five on the season.

Stillman, who was obtained during draft weekend in June, has contributed four goals -- all on the power play -- and two assists in the early going. He is being counted on to replace left wing Vaclav Prospal, who signed with Anaheim in the offseason after leading the Lightning in scoring.

Stillman's presence has specifically boosted the Bolts' power play unit, which has converted on seven of its 25 chances in the early going.

After tonight the Bolts will return home to begin a six-game stand against Minnesota on Saturday.

Columbus, meanwhile, has lost two straight on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Wednesday the Blue Jackets dropped a 4-1 contest in Detroit, as the Red Wings broke away with two goals in the third period. Sophomore Rick Nash scored his fourth goal of the young season, and Mark Denis finished with 24 saves in defeat.

The Blue Jackets, 3-0 at Nationwide Arena in 2003-04, will open a brief homestand tonight. They'll welcome Dallas to town on Saturday.

Columbus and Tampa Bay skated to a 2-2 tie in Ohio last October, and the Lightning are 2-0-1 in the last three meetings. However, Tampa Bay is 0-1-1 all-time in Columbus.

10/23 10:14:23 ET


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