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Flyers head south to face Lightning

by Adam Kimelman /
FLYERS (36-14-5) at LIGHTNING (34-17-5)

TV -- CSN-Philadelphia (HD), SUN (HD)     

Last 10 -- Flyers 7-3-0; Lightning 8-2-0

Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting this season between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning have won each of the first three meetings, most recently Feb. 1, when Dwayne Roloson made 38 saves to lead the Lightning to a 4-0 victory in Tampa Bay.

Big story -- The Flyers may be the top team in the Eastern Conference, but they've struggled against the second-place Lightning. They were shutout in their last trip to Tampa, and now they're coming off a 1-0 shutout loss to the Kings on Saturday. Can they right the ship and finally earn a win against the Lightning?

The Lightning, however, aren't in perfect shape, either. After giving up five third-period goals last week against the Sabres, they blew a 3-1 third-period lead Saturday against the Hurricanes, giving up two goals in the final minute before winning in overtime.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Generally when a team is winning, the forward lines will stay consistent. However, despite entering Saturday's game on a three-game win streak, the Flyers had just eight goals in their last four games, so coach Peter Laviolette put together an all-center line -- Claude Giroux between Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

The trio produced 11 shots Saturday, but couldn't put a single puck behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in a 1-0 loss.

"We haven't generated as many chances as I'd like," Laviolette said after the game. "It was more so just to give a different look and a different feel.  We're just trying to attack more offensively."

Laviolette didn't say whether the all-center line would stay together long-term -- he switched things up a bit in the third -- and the players weren't sure, either.

"We never play together so when you do it's obviously going to take more than one game to get the chemistry going," said Giroux. "I think we didn't play bad, but we obviously should have played better."

Lightning -- Marc-Andre Bergeron knows the best way to make friends on his new team -- scoring in overtime.

In just his third game in Tampa Bay, the defenseman helped his new team avert disaster by scoring in overtime Saturday as the Lightning took a 4-3 decision from the Hurricanes.

"I've seen him do that all last year," Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who was with the Canadiens organization last season when Bergeron was in Montreal, told the St. Petersburg Times. "Big goals in big moments. I'm happy, but I'm not surprised."

Who's hot -- The Flyers have been shut out twice in their last five games, but when they have scored, it's been Jeff Carter doing most of the work. He has 3 of the team's last eight goals, and has 5 points in the last four games. … Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim has two straight multi-point games. He had a goal and set up the overtime winner Saturday against Carolina.

Injury report -- Outside of the season-long injury absence of Ian Laperriere, the Flyers have no listed injuries. … Defenseman Mike Lundin and forward Ryan Malone are out with abdominal muscle injuries. Center Nate Thompson is doubtful with a concussion.

Stat pack -- The Flyers lead the Eastern Conference with 181 goals, but they've been shut out five times, the fifth-most of any team in the East.

Puck drop -- Vincent Lecavalier doesn't care what people say about his 12 goals and 29 points this season. He's happy, and just as importantly, the Lightning captain's coach is very happy with his performance.

"I don't listen to outsiders, I listen to the coaching staff and my teammates,'' Lecavalier told the Tampa Tribune. "I'm not so focused on defense. I think I just couldn't find the net at times. I think I just have to play a solid game defensively and the chances will come."

They came Saturday, when he scored a goal and made a nice play to set up another, even though he didn't get an assist. He also took four shots, threw a team-high three hits, blocked a shot and won 10 of 18 faceoffs.

"The captain had his red cape and an 'S' on the back today," Boucher told the St. Petersburg Times after Saturday's game. "Vinny, just incredible, just unreal, a horse out there from the first minute to the end. Right now he's inspired the team. He inspired me. He inspired the fans. I'm sure every time he picked up the puck, you could hear the stands going crazy."

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