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First-place Lightning try to stay hot vs. Oilers

by Brian Hunter

OILERS (4-10-2) at LIGHTNING (10-4-0)


Last 10: Edmonton 3-6-1; Tampa Bay 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning. In their most recent matchup, on March 22, 2012, Teddy Purcell scored in the sixth round of a shootout to lead the Lightning past the Oilers 3-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Big story: The Lightning sit first in the Atlantic Division (20 points in one fewer game than the Toronto Maple Leafs and two fewer games than the Detroit Red Wings), but on Thursday they'll be tasked with slowing down the Oilers, who will have top-line forward Taylor Hall back in the lineup.

Team Scope:

Oilers: There was a sense of relief and quite a bit of satisfaction after Edmonton snapped a five-game skid Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime win against the Florida Panthers. The Oilers let a 3-1 lead slip in the third period but got the win when Mark Arcobello scored on the power play at 1:55 of OT.

It was Arcobello's second goal of the game, the first two of his NHL career, but even before he found the back of the net he had a team-leading 10 assists. The Oilers also got a lift from defenseman Taylor Fedun, who scored in his NHL debut.

"It was big for confidence there," Arcobello said of scoring his initial goal. "I've had my fair share of chances so far this year. I've been squeezing the stick a little bit too tight. To finally get that first one was big."

Lightning: While not quite the overnight sensation the Colorado Avalanche have been over in the Western Conference, there's an undeniable buzz around Tampa Bay regarding the way the Lightning have turned around their fortunes over the season's first five weeks. They have yet to lose consecutive games and enter Thursday seeking their third win in a row.

Tampa Bay has been particularly tough against the West, which continued in Saturday's 4-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues. With the score knotted in the third, Brett Connolly's first of the season put the Lightning in front to stay and Valtteri Filppula tacked on some late insurance.

"That's a good team over there and we kept it going in the third period and kind of took over," said Ben Bishop, who stopped 28 shots. "I thought it was a little bit of a measuring stick for us."

Who's hot: Boyd Gordon set up three goals for the Oilers on Tuesday, including Arcobello's in overtime. … Steven Stamkos has six goals and four assists in the past six games for the Lightning. Alex Killorn has two goals and three assists in the past two games.

Injury report: For Edmonton, goaltender Richard Bachman (lower body), defensemen Anton Belov (lower body) and Justin Schultz (groin) and forwards Steve MacIntyre (knee), David Perron (neck), Tyler Pitlick (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (back) have been sidelined. … Tampa Bay defenseman Brian Lee (knee) and forward Tom Pyatt (collarbone) are out indefinitely.

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