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Lightning continue Western swing in Anaheim

by Matthew Mankiewich

LIGHTNING (7-2-1) at DUCKS (4-7-1)

TV -- SUN (HD),FS-West (HD)

Last 10
-- Tampa Bay 7-2-1, Anaheim 4-5-1

Season series -- It's the only meeting this season. The teams met twice in 2009-2010, with the Ducks taking both, one in overtime, one in a shootout. Tampa Bay's last win came the previous season, a 4-3 victory at the Honda Center on Jan. 9, 2009. It's their only win against the Ducks in their last six tries dating back to 2003-04.

Big story -- The NHL's most penalized team faces the League's leading scorer in Steven Stamkos. The Lightning also have one of the NHL's most effective power plays, which is further incentive for the Ducks to keep the sin-bin time down, though the Ducks' man-up unit is no slouch, either.

Team scope

Lightning -- As Stamkos goes, so go the Lightning. His 9 goals -- three on the power play -- and 10 assists give him the League scoring lead with 19 points. But most important, his team is 7-2-1. The NHL rewarded his performance by making him the first star for October.

Some interesting facts came out of the NHL office this week, one of which has the Lightning in very good company.. For example, seven of the last 12 Stanley Cup champions led their conferences heading into November. With an Eastern Conference-leading 15 points in 10 games, the Bolts are currently the top seed.

And only twice in the last 24 years did a team fail to make the playoffs after leading the conference on Nov. 1 -- the 1993-94 Flyers and 1988-89 Maple Leafs.

Ducks -- This game should be a little quieter than the Ducks' last one -- San Jose and Anaheim dropped the gloves twice in each period and combined for nine more calls in a 5-2 Sharks win on Saturday. It was actually a bit of a drop-off from the 41 penalties called in their last preseason meeting.

"There's obviously an animosity developing," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't seem to get involved in the game. There's always going to be fatigue, but it didn't look like we had much structure."

The penalties did not sit well with general manager Bob Murray.

"The biggest problem to me is we don't seem to have the right attitude going into hockey games," Murray said in the Orange County Register. "The players will not stick with it. These stupid penalties ... taking undisciplined penalties."

Who's hot -- Stamkos may be setting the scoring standard League-wide, but Ryan Getzlaf is also in the top 10 -- his 15 points are tied with Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton. Stamkos' plus-9 rating is second in the NHL behind Dallas' Stephane Robidas' plus-10 and of all those top-10 scorers, only Brad Richards is even close at plus-7.

Injury report -- On the Lightning side, Mathieu Roy will be called up from Norfolk to replace Matt Smaby (ankle). Center Dominic Moore (groin) had an MRI on Monday. Simon Gagne (concussion) took a neuro-psyche test that confirmed he is not suffering from symptoms, but the related neck strain has been slow to improve, which will keep him out the rest of the road trip. … Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler (broken nose) is scheduled to return Wednesday after the club decided to keep him for the remainder of the season.

Stat pack -- Martin St. Louis played in his 400th consecutive game Saturday night in Phoenix but saw his four-game point streak stopped. … Both teams have strong power-play numbers overall: The Lightning and Ducks are fourth and fifth in the League at 23.9 and 23.8 percent, but the Bolts have cooled off a bit in extra-man opportunities, going 3-for-21 and 1-for-17 while playing 5-on-4 in their last five games. Mike Smith has a 4-0-0 record overall right now with a relatively high 3.59 goals-against average, but he's 3-0-1 with a stingy 1.50 GAA in four starts against the Ducks.

Puck drop -- "I don't think that many expected us to be there because there are so many new people in place. The only thing I heard all the time was it's going to take time. I ever said it myself. What's happening is that nobody cares who gets the credit. You get success that way. Everybody is contributing right now whether it be fourth line, third line, second line, first line, everybody is playing the same way. That's where the success lies right now." -- Lightning coach Guy Boucher in the Tampa Tribune on the team's strong start

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