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Don’t look now but the Lightning’s winning ways of late have them just 10 points out of the playoffs. Following Thursday’s 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay leap-frogged the Ottawa Senators and now are the equivalent of five games behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the eight and final playoff position. The fight back into the race will continue tonight as the Lightning will take on the Florida Panthers, who they trail by nine points in the standings, for the proverbial ‘four-point game’. The Panthers lost to the Flyers in a shootout last night.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Rick Tocchet told the media this morning that the Lightning can not afford to go on any extended losing streaks the remainder of the season. “We can’t go on a three or four game losing streak,” he said. The schedule is at least in Tampa Bay’s favor for the time being as they will play five of their next six at the St. Pete Times Forum with a one-game trip to Raleigh mixed in.
The Lightning continue to suffer a rash of injuries on the blue line. Just when Matt Smaby is possibly ready to come off the injured reserve, Marek Malik is now listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Smaby will take warm-ups tonight and could be ready to go. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it shakes out.Steven Stamkos
will have is second game in the press box this season tonight as the coaching staff continues their plan to increase his strength. He had a video session with Assistant Coach Wes Walz today after practice and will be in the press box taking notes during the game tonight. He will take a small break to visit with Sun Sports’ Rick Peckham and Bobby “the Chief” Taylor in the broadcast booth during the second period.