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Lightning-Kings Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (22-20-3) at Los Angeles Kings (28-17-2).

TIME: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Tampa Bay Lightning need to turn their fortunes around to avoid falling further behind in the playoff race. They will try to do just that in an arena where they have never lost.

The Lightning, losers of nine of their last 13 games, have two wins and two ties all-time at Staples Center, where they face the slumping Los Angeles Kings.

Tampa Bay is 8-1-2 in all games at Los Angeles, the lone loss coming on Nov. 6, 1997 at the Great Western Forum. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the only other NHL team which is unbeaten at Staples Center since it opened in 1999.

Playing just their second game in nine nights, the Lightning lost the opener of their four-game road trip 3-1 on Monday at San Jose. Tampa Bay had only 12 shots on net in the first two periods, and went scoreless until Brad Richards goal with 9:52 remaining in the game.

"I couldn't get my legs going," center Tim Taylor said. "I felt terrible. We practiced very well (Sunday), too. We didn't have our legs at all. When they got up by two, it was hard to get through them. It's disappointing, but we have to find answers."

Sean Burke stopped 22 of 25 shots in his second consecutive start over struggling John Grahame.

"If it hadn't been for Burke, we would have been embarrassed," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "We should be embarrassed."

Things are no better in Los Angeles, where the Kings return home after concluding a 1-3 road trip with a 10-1 blowout loss at Buffalo on Saturday. The Kings allowed 10 goals in a game for the first time since a 10-3 loss to Washington on Feb. 13, 1993.

The margin of defeat matched the Kings' worst since a 9-0 loss to Montreal in the 1975-76 season opener.

"They walked all over us," Kings captain Mattias Norstrom said. "A loss like this you start to talk about pride. As a team, as individuals, we got embarrassed out there."

Goaltender Mathieu Garon allowed four goals on 10 shots in just over nine minutes. Backup Adam Hauser played the rest of the game, stopping 18 of 24 shots in his NHL debut.

The effort frustrated Los Angeles coach Andy Murray enough that he didn't address his players after the game.

"I said most of my things after the first and second periods," Murray said. "I said my piece and it was time for them to come up with an explanation. We just weren't very good."

The Kings are home for six of their next seven games after playing 10 of their last 13 on the road. Los Angeles has won its last four games at Staples Center.

STANDINGS: Lightning - 47 points, 3rd place, 17 PB, Southeast Division. Kings - 58 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier and Fredrik Modin, 18 goals; Vaclav Prospal, 31 assists and 48 points; Pavel Kubina, 68 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Craig Conroy and Lubomir Visnovsky, 32 assists; Sean Avery, 168 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Lightning - Power play: 13.1 percent (35 for 268), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (185 for 226), 16th. Kings - Power play: 15.5 percent (50 for 322), 24th. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (235 for 292), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Grahame (16-14-1, 2 SO, 2.93 GAA); Burke (6-5-2, 0, 2.66). Kings - Garon (20-11-0, 2, 2.74); Hauser (0-0-0, 0, 7.06).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Kings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 6, 2003; Kings, 1-0 (OT). At Tampa, Fla., Zigmund Palffy scored the game's only goal with eight seconds remaining in overtime. Roman Cechmanek made 30 saves for the Kings' first shutout in 21 games against the Lightning.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 10-11-2 on the road; Kings - 15-6-0 at home.

Associated Press

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