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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 3rd (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (37-25-4) at Florida Panthers (26-26-13), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their longest road trip of the season tonight, when they visit the rival Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

The six-game swing is key for the Lightning, who are third in the Eastern Conference and lead the Southeast Division by two points over Atlanta. Tampa Bay has had success on the road this season, going 19-11-3 as the visiting club.

Tampa Bay earned an exciting victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday to begin the lengthy trek. Nick Tarnasky scored in the 10th round of a shootout, lifting the Lightning past the Capitals, 5-4, at the Verizon Center.

After 19 players on both sides failed to score before him, Tarnasky gained speed from center ice before snapping the puck between the pads of Caps' goaltender Brent Johnson.

Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, who had dropped two of three heading into this trip. Johan Holmqvist made 23 saves before stonewalling the home team in the shootout.

Holmqvist has saved 26-of-27 shots in shootouts this season.

After tonight's game, Tampa Bay's trip will shift to western Canada for three games in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary before ending March 13 in Toronto.

The Panthers, meanwhile, have a chance to get their longest winning streak of the season, as they take a three-game string into this evening's test.

Florida has posted victories over Boston, Washington and Dallas to match the club's season-high of three straight wins set from December 16-21.

The Panthers earned the latest victory on Thursday by beating the visiting Stars in dramatic fashion. Florida captain Olli Jokinen scored 2:11 into overtime to lift the Panthers over Dallas, 2-1.

Jozef Stumpel scored in regulation while Ed Belfour turned away 33 shots for the Panthers. Jokinen also had an assist in the win.

The Panthers have 65 points on the year and are eight points behind the New York Islanders and Carolina, holders of the final two postseason berths in the East.

Florida, which is a solid 18-10-4 as the host this year, wraps up a brief two- game homestand tonight.

The Panthers have seven of their last 11 matchups with their in-state rivals, although Tampa Bay has taken three of the five meetings this season. The Lightning have also lost in six of their last seven visits to the BankAtlantic Center.

03/03 11:31:12 ET


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