LIGHTNING (11-11-8) at AVALANCHE (17-10-6)
Last 10 -- Tampa Bay 3-6-1; Colorado 4-3-3
Season series -- This is the second of two meetings between the clubs. The Avalanche shut out the Lightning, 3-0, in Tampa on Nov. 30. Matt Duchene scored twice for his first career multi-goal game. The rookie would also record his first career game-winning goal.
Big story -- The Lightning are in a bit of a slump right now, having won just one of their last seven games, including the shutout loss to the Avs. Things won't be any easier if Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone are unable to play on Friday. The team-leading goal scorers both left Wednesday's game with injuries. Colorado, meanwhile, has only won two of its last seven home games.
Lightning -- Despite losing a couple of its top players in the first two periods Wednesday and despite the loss, Tampa put in a solid effort against the Oilers. Martin St. Louis opened the scoring in the first period on a perfect pass from Vincent Lecavalier. It was the right winger’s first goal in 10 games. Victor Hedman tallied his second career goal – and second in three games -- in the second period to tie the game. The Lightning got 15 shots on goal in the third, but were unable to solve Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers.
"I thought the effort was there," St. Louis said. "It's one of those games, you fall short and you're disappointed because you felt that you played it pretty hard."
"I thought that Vinny [Lecavalier] was excellent tonight, and Marty [St. Louis]. They played their hearts out and all the other guys followed," coach Rick Tocchet said. "The guys played really hard, especially that third period."
Avalanche -- Minnesota needed just one goal to win on Wednesday to shut out Colorado and continue its mastery of the Avalanche this season. The Avs have now lost all four games to the Wild. Peter Budaj, who has started the last four games with Craig Anderson out with a neck injury, made 21 saves. Budaj posted two wins while Anderson has been out.
"Just not good enough," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "The difference in the game was the power play. We had six chances on the power play, and you just can't go 0-for-6 when you're looking to generate offense. We looked sloppy (on it). We weren't sharp. We just weren't strong enough on the puck."
Who's hot -- St. Louis had a goal and assist on Wednesday and recorded seven shots on goal. Just prior to the Avs' shutout loss, Wojtek Wolski was riding a seven-game point streak with 10 points, while Budaj has played solidly in Anderson's absence.
Injury report -- Neither Stamkos' (upper body) or Malone's (lower body) injuries are serious, but they are both questionable for Friday's game. Anderson (neck) skated in a full practice on Thursday and could get the start on Friday. Defensemen Kyle Cumiskey (foot) and Ruslan Salei (back) are on the injured reserve with right wing David Jones (torn left ACL).
Stat pack -- In five career games against the Lightning, Paul Stastny has had three goals and four assists.
Puck drop -- As much as it would hurt the Lightning not to have Malone and Stamkos in the lineup, it might provide the spark for the struggling Lecavalier to step up and get his offense going, especially against an Avs team that has also had its share of problems.