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Well it has certainly been interesting couple weeks for the Lightning. First Tampa Bay defeated tonight's opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, to snap a losing streak. Things were looking up after the win but the Lightning lost to Ottawa in their next game and drew criticism of Head
Coach Rick Toccet. Next Tampa Bay played the Colorado Avalanche at home in what would become known as the "thrown stick game" in which the officials ruled that Mike Smith had thrown his stick in the shootout and awarded a goal.
After that the Lightning traveled to Atlanta where they again struggled, which caused Martin St. Louis
to call out the team in the media, calling some of his teammates "clock killers". Of St. Louis' comments, Tocchet said that they have "made us a more accountable team."
Now the team seems to have responded by winning their previous three games to tie their longest winning streak of the season. Rick Tocchet attributes the team's recent success to physical play, going to the net more, better neutral zone play and not giving up as many shots. He said that "teams aren't scoring off the rush against us."
Part of that physical play has to do with Evgeny Artyukhin who has two goals, a plus-3 rating, two fights and 16 hits in the previous three games after being a healthy scratch. The bad thing is the Lightning doesn't have a lot of room for mistakes the rest of the season as Tocchet said, "We don't have the luxury of taking a night off."
Mike Smith will make his seventh consecutive start in between the pipes tonight and the rest of the line up should remain the same.