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Lightning-Devils Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (30-21-4) at New Jersey Devils (28-21-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are starting to play like a championship team. They may need a playoff-caliber effort to win their fourth straight game.

The Lightning visit the New Jersey Devils, winners of seven consecutive home games, in a matchup of the last two Stanley Cup champions.

After hovering near .500 for much of the season's first half, Tampa Bay is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games to pull two points ahead of the Devils into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Lightning's current hot streak includes a 1-0 home victory in overtime against New Jersey on Jan. 26.

Tampa Bay won its third straight game in dramatic fashion Monday night. Martin St. Louis' goal with 1:12 left in regulation tied the game with the New York Islanders. St. Louis then assisted on Vincent Lecavalier's goal in overtime, giving the Lightning a 3-2 win.

"I felt we had control of the game," said St. Louis, who snapped a personal eight-game goal-scoring drought. "We just had to keep pushing, and it paid off."

St. Louis has two goals and two assists in three games against New Jersey this season.

The Lightning have won four straight games at Continental Airlines Arena since losing to the Devils 5-1 on Oct. 26, 2002. The winning streak is the longest active run for any visiting club at New Jersey.

New Jersey's last eight-game home winning streak came from Jan.3-Feb.4, 2003 during its last championship season.

While the Devils have won seven straight games in New Jersey, they've lost their last three on the road. Martin Brodeur allowed three first-period goals on eight shots Saturday in Toronto and the Devils never recovered, losing 4-2 to the Maple Leafs.

Brian Gionta and John Madden scored 35 seconds apart in the third period, but Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour was perfect the rest of the way and finished with 36 saves.

"Eddie played extremely well. He was the biggest difference in the game," Madden said.

Brodeur's has dropped six of his last seven decisions to the Lightning, but his 22 career wins over them are the most by any goaltender in NHL history.

STANDINGS: Lightning - 64 points, 2nd place, 16 PB, Southeast Division. Devils - 62 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Fredrik Modin, 23 goals; Vaclav Prospal, 38 assists and 56 points; Pavel Kubina, 76 PIM. Devils - Brian Gionta, 31 goals and 53 points; Scott Gomez, 30 assists; Colin White, 55 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Lightning - Power play: 14.2 percent (46 for 325), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (221 for 263), 11th. Devils - Power play: 17.2 percent (54 for 313), 17th. Penalty killing: 82.4 percent (221 for 263), 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - John Grahame (20-15-1, 5 SO, 2.60 GAA); Sean Burke (10-5-3, 1, 2.46). Devils - Brodeur (26-17-4, 5, 2.55); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 0, 3.83).

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 26; Lightning, 1-0 (OT). Ruslan Fedotenko scored with 2:38 remaining in overtime and Grahame made 20 saves for his third shutout in five starts.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 15-12-2 on the road; Devils - 17-7-3 at home.

Associated Press

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