GAME: Florida Panthers (28-34-14-4) at Tampa Bay Lightning (45-21-8-6).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won't be content with the top seed in the Eastern
Conference. They're hungry for the Presidents' Trophy.
Trying to catch Detroit for the league's best record, the Lightning hope to
avoid a letdown when they host the Florida Panthers at the St. Pete Times
After Detroit's 3-2 win over Columbus on Wednesday, the Lightning fell three
points behind the Red Wings with just two games remaining. While it's still
possible for Tampa Bay to finish with the most points in the NHL, the Lightning
must first focus on clinching the top seed in the East for the first time in
The Lightning hold a three-point lead over second-place Boston, which has
three games remaining.
On Monday, Tampa Bay had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 5-4
overtime loss to Ottawa despite two late goals by Dave Andreychuk.
"We got a point, but it's still a loss," Lightning center Tim Taylor said.
"Our goals aren't the Eastern Conference anymore. Our goals are the
Presidents' Trophy and it looks with just getting a point tonight we won't be
able to do it now."
The Lightning will close out the regular season at home Saturday against
The Panthers are also coming off a 5-4 loss to the Senators on Wednesday.
Olli Jokinen, Christian Berglund, Mike Van Ryn and Juraj Kolnik scored for
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 30 of 35 shots, setting an NHL
single-season record for most shots faced with 2,443, breaking the mark of
2,438 set by Toronto s Felix Potvin in 1996-97.
STANDINGS: Panthers - 74 points, 4th place, 30 PB, Southeast Division.
Lightning - 104 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Jokinen, 25 goals, 28 assists and 53 points; Darcy
Hordichuk, 158 PIM. Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 35 goals, 56 assists and 91
points; Chris Dingman, 138 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 30): Panthers - Power play: 16.6 percent (49
for 296), 12th in NHL (tied). Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (312 for 361), 2nd.
Lightning - Power play: 16.6 percent (55 for 331), 12th (tied). Penalty
killing: 84.8 percent (228 for 269), 11th.
GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (25-33-13, 7 SO, 2.37 GAA); Steve Shields
(3-5-1, 0, 3.38). Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (28-18-7, 3, 2.33); John
Grahame (17-9-1, 1, 2.03).
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 6; Lightning, 5-3. At Florida, Dmitry Afanasenkov,
Andreychuk and Cory Stillman scored for Tampa Bay in the opening period, and
Dan Boyle and Chris Dingman added goals in the second.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 12-19-8-1 on the road; Lightning - 23-9-4-3 at