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Lightning and Panthers both look to rebound

by Adam Kimelman

PANTHERS (9-12-0) at LIGHTNING (13-8-2)

TV -- SUN (HD)

Last 10 -- Florida 4-6-0; Tampa Bay 6-4-0

Season series -- This is the second of six meetings between the Sunshine State rivals. On Oct. 16, David Booth scored twice and Bryan McCabe had 4 assists in a 6-0 victory at BankAtlantic Center in Florida's home opener.

Big story -- Both teams will be looking to rediscover their offense. The Lightning had their five-game win streak snapped in a 6-0 loss to at Washington, while the Panthers dropped their third straight, 3-0 to the Rangers at home.

Team Scope:

Panthers -- A power play, generally speaking, is supposed to help a team. Someone needs to explain that concept to the Panthers. Florida went 0-for-5 against the Rangers, making it eight straight games without a power-play goal. The Panthers have just two extra-man goals in their 12 November games -- they're 2-for-42 for the month -- and all of five for the season.

They went 0-for-12 with the extra man on the three-game homestand that ended with Friday's loss, and scored just three goals in the three games.

"Your best players have to be your best players," coach Peter DeBoer said, "and in all three games, we had trouble scoring. Our best players didn't get on the board and we were out-goaltended in all three. It's tough to win games when that happens."

Lightning -- Friday was a disappointing reversal of fortune for the Lightning. After working so hard to climb to second place in the Southeast Division and believing they really could mount a challenge to the first-place Capitals, they fell apart.

"We just got outworked … plain and simple," center Steven Stamkos told the St. Petersburg Times. "I thought we were soft all over the ice -- the setups, the power play, in our own end. You can't expect to win (playing like that), especially against a team like that."

Said coach Guy Boucher: "I don't think we could have beaten a bantam team tonight. … You can't expect to beat a powerful team like that coming in with your lowest work ethic and lowest level of execution."

Who's hot -- Panthers forward David Booth hasn't scored in his last 10 games, but facing the Lightning, that could change. In 23 games against Tampa Bay, he has 12 goals. … Lightning forward Martin St. Louis hasn't scored a goal in his last five games, but he's found other ways to help -- he has 8 assists in that span, giving him 21 on the season, third-best in the League.

Injury report -- Panthers forward Steve Bernier, who hasn't played since breaking his orbital bone when the Wild's Brent Burns butt-ended him Nov. 12, is skating with a full cage and DeBoer said he could play during the team's trip to California next week. Defenseman Jason Garrison missed Friday's game with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Bryan Allen is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a broken foot. … The Lightning continue to be without forwards Simon Gagne (neck) and Vincent Lecavalier (hand), as well as defenseman Matt Smaby (ankle).

Stat pack -- The Lightning are the only Eastern Conference team to rank in the League's top five in power play (fifth, 24.0 percent) and penalty killing (fourth, 87.0 percent). The Canucks are the only other team in the League to have both their special teams in the top five.

Puck drop -- Thanksgiving is the worst travel time of the year and Panthers forward Bill Thomas learned it the hard way. He was sent from the Panthers to the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., on Thursday, but then was recalled Friday.

After fighting through the holiday crowd twice, Thomas was a healthy scratch for Friday's game.

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