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Flames, Lightning headed in opposite directions

by Lonnie Herman /
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who meet tonight here at the St. Pete Times Forum, are like two ships passing in the night.

The Lightning (12-16-2) will conclude a two-game homestand tonight, hoping to grab a win before leaving for a three-game road trip. Tampa Bay has been reeling recently, having lost 11 of their last 15.

The Flames (14-14-2), meanwhile, are getting hot. After winning just eight of their first 21 games, they're 6-2-1 in their last nine games.

The Flames have scored 14 goals over the last four games and positive signs abound.

"We're showing confidence," said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. "We've worked hard and we don't want to fall back now."

Tampa Bay, by contrast, has been beset with troubles on all sides.

"Adversity, adversity, adversity," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said when asked to describe the season so far. "That's what it's been since training camp."

Boucher pointed to injuries, power-play production and secondary scoring as causes for the team's slide.

"Mattias Ohlund isn't skating and he isn't even close to coming back," Boucher said of the mainstay defenseman who is yet to play a game following offseason surgery on both knees. "It's a question of pain tolerance and mobility. His knees are worn down."

The power play, which is 24th in the League at 15.0 percent, currently is mired in a 2-for-21 slump. Last season at this point, the success rate stood at 24 percent.

Almost half of the team's goals this season have come from three players -- Steven Stamkos (18), Vincent Lecavalier (11) and Martin St. Louis (9). With St. Louis sidelined indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures, Boucher has called on other players to fill the gap; to date, they have not.

Teddy Purcell doesn't have a point in five games and has no goals and only 3 assists in his last 16; Ryan Shannon, brought in as a free agent this season to add scoring, has 1 goal in the last nine games; Dana Tyrell hasn't scored a goal in 10 games.

"We need the second and third lines to score to give us a bit of offense," Tyrell said. "We know we're capable of doing it; it'll come, we just can't get down on ourselves."

"Obviously, we're not getting the results we want," Boucher said. "There were high expectations even though last year we were viewed as a 'Cinderella' team. But we're close. It's a fine line and any game could be the turnaround game for us."
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