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Lightning, Flames engage in cross-conference battle

by Brian Hunter
FLAMES (29-21-8) at LIGHTNING (24-21-11)

Last 10: Calgary 3-5-2; Tampa Bay 6-3-1

Season Series:
This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. Their most recent matchup was a wild one, with Tampa Bay winning 8-6 in Calgary on March 1, 2009. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis each had two goals and an assist for the Lightning. Lecavalier's power-play goal midway through the third was the game-winner, and St. Louis scored a late empty-netter. Jarome Iginla scored twice for the Flames.

Big Story:
The eighth seeds from each conference square off in a battle for playoff positioning. Calgary seems to have survived a January skid and has won three of its last four. Tampa Bay, on the strength of a 15-6-6 record at the St. Pete Times Forum, has surged in front of the fading Rangers, Bruins and Islanders.

Team Scope:

Another one of the Calgary newcomers got on the board with his new team Friday as Ales Kotalik opened the scoring in the waning seconds of the first period with a power-play goal against Florida. The Flames went on to a 2-1 victory as Miikka Kiprusoff had a quiet night, needing to stop just 12 shots.

"With the new guys, it was an understanding of what they had to do and I thought they went out there and contributed. It was a solid team win," coach Brent Sutter said.

Lightning: Tampa Bay has won five of its last seven and picked up a point out of a shootout loss to Anaheim during that stretch. This is the second of a four-game homestand for the Lightning, who scored four unanswered goals Thursday for a 5-2 win over the Islanders. Steven Stamkos finished with a pair of tallies to give him 31 for the season and extend his points streak to eight games, tying a career high.

"I think as a team we've got the confidence to win games, and that's huge," Stamkos said. "We know we're going to play well at the beginning of the game and we're going to give ourselves a chance to stay in it."

Who's Hot:
Kiprusoff has won three of his last four starts for the Flames and has allowed two goals or less in six of eight. … Stamkos has six goals and seven assists during his points streak. St. Louis has goals in five straight games. Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki is 5-0-1 in his last six starts, allowing two goals or less in each game and posting a .963 save percentage.

Injury Report:
Calgary has forwards David Moss (shoulder), Nigel Dawes (leg) and Craig Conroy (knee) on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
Daymond Langkow is set to play in his 1,000th NHL game for the Flames, after Iginla accomplished the feat against the Panthers. Langkow has 256 goals and 636 points in a 14-year career that started with the Lightning and has also seen him play for the Flyers and Coyotes. … Stamkos took over the League lead in power-play goals with his 13th on Friday.
Puck Drop:
Calgary will try to sweep the Florida portion of its three-game road trip before finishing up in Ottawa on Tuesday. The Senators could be carrying a 12-game winning streak depending on the outcome of their game Saturday against the Maple Leafs.

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