Friday, April 6, 2007

Game Preview: TB Vs. FLA


With a playoff berth secured, the Tampa Bay Lightning still have a chance to enter the postseason as division champions.

The Lightning (44-32-4) look to win their fourth straight game and set up a possible showdown for the Southeast Division title as they meet the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Tampa Bay was idle on Thursday, but clinched a playoff berth after the New York Rangers' 3-1 win over Montreal. The Lightning have 92 points, leaving them one point behind division-leading Atlanta which also plays Friday night against Carolina.

Tampa Bay will travel to Atlanta for the final regular-season game between the teams on Saturday night. The Lightning are 5-2-0 against the Thrashers in 2006-07.

First, the Lightning need to get past the Panthers, against whom they've been outscored 11-4 in two straight losses. Overall, Tampa Bay is 3-3-1 against Florida, but needs a big game from Vincent Lecavalier

Lecavalier leads the league with 52 goals and is third with 107 points. Against the Panthers, though, the top overall pick in 1998 has managed only two goals and four assists. Lecavalier and Dan Boyle scored less than 2 minutes apart early in the third period to defeat Carolina 3-2 on Tuesday and eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions from the playoff chase.

"We're trying to build that intensity that you need in the playoffs," said Lightning forward Eric Perrin, who also scored.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay's second-leading scorer with 101 points, has a six-game point streak versus the Panthers with four goals and five assists.

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