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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, March 27th (All times eastern)

Florida Panthers (31-30-14) at Tampa Bay Lightning (41-31-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to get back on the right track tonight, when they welcome the Florida Panthers to St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning have dropped four of their last six contests and have dropped to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. With 86 points, Tampa is just two points ahead of Carolina, Montreal and the Islanders, who are all tied for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East. However, the Bolts are also only two points behind Atlanta for the Southeast Division lead.

Tampa Bay began its four-game homestand by winning two straight, but ran into trouble Saturday against Ottawa. Dany Heatley registered two goals and an assist as the Senators pounded the Lightning, 7-2.

Dan Boyle scored both goals for the Lightning, while goaltender Marc Denis yielded five goals on 23 shots before getting pulled early in the third period.

Tonight's contest marks the end of the residency for the Lightning, who are 20-16-1 as the home club this season. Tampa will visit Carolina on Friday before returning to the Forum for a three-game homestand.

Florida has also dropped four of its last six contests and has seen its slim playoff chances all but fade away. The Panthers are eight points out of the final postseason berth with just seven games to play.

The Panthers were dealt a close loss Saturday against New Jersey, as the Devils earned a 4-3 shootout victory at BankAtlantic Center.

Olli Jokinen, Stephen Weiss and Ville Peltonen each scored for Florida, which was dealt its second consecutive setback. Mike Van Ryn notched a pair of assists and Ed Belfour stopped 27 shots.

The Panthers are just 10-18-9 as the visiting team this season.

The Lightning and Panthers have split six meetings so far this season, but Florida has taken eight of the last 12 overall matchups between the teams.

03/27 10:53:54 ET

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