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Lightning make rare visit to see Flames, Ramo

by John Kreiser

LIGHTNING (24-12-4) at FLAMES (14-20-6)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 7-2-1; Calgary 3-5-2

Season series: The is the first game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames since Dec. 15, 2011, when the Lightning won 5-4 in overtime at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning haven't come to Scotiabank Saddledome since Dec. 7, 2010, a game won 4-2 by the Flames.

Big story: The Lightning continue a year-opening round trip that began New Year's night with a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks. Calgary has lost its three post-Christmas games with one goal in 180 minutes.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Tampa Bay continues to flourish despite the absence of injured forward Steven Stamkos, who has missed almost two months after breaking his right tibia against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11. Much of the reason for the Lightning’s success has been the play of goaltender Ben Bishop, who stopped 31 shots in the victory at Vancouver.

Bishop was left off the United States Olympic roster despite 21 wins, a 1.89 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper is confident he’ll make it in future years.

"The one thing Bishop has done is put himself in the conversation of top American goalies," Cooper told the media Thursday. "You have to remember Bishop has not even played in 100 games (75), so he doesn't have a ton of NHL experience, but he'll represent the U.S. in the future and he's just coming into his own now. You want the kid to experience it for sure, but it's just not right now, his time will come."

Flames: Calgary is hopeful the return of defenseman Dennis Wideman will provide a boost at both ends of the ice.

Wideman has missed 16 games with a broken hand sustained Nov. 27.

"You never want to get injured, you never want to sit out, so any time you're watching games, it's awful tough," he told the media after practice Thursday. "At first, when you know you can't play, it's not quite as hard. But when you're closer to coming back, you feel like you could be going, that's when it starts to get really tough."

Things have been tough all around in Calgary, where a second-period goal in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday represents all of the Flames' offense in their past three games.

"You hear the old line, 'As long as you're getting chances, it's OK.' But even that gets old after a while,” forward TJ Galiardi said Thursday. “We've got to just keep going to the net and maybe one will go off of our chest. It seems like it happens to us all the time, so it's frustrating right now, as you can tell."

Karri Ramo will start in goal against his former team, which drafted him in 2004.

Who's hot: Lightning center Valtteri Filppula has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past eight games, including five multipoint games in his past seven. Forwards Tyler Johnson (three goals, one assist) and Ondrej Palat (one goal, three assists) are riding four-game point streaks. … Ramo is 2-1-2 in his past five games; he played 48 games for the Lightning from 2006-09 then played in the KHL until this season.

Injury report: Lightning defensemen Keith Aulie (upper body), Brian Lee (knee) and Sami Salo (upper body) are out. .. Calgary forwards Curtis Glencross (ankle) and Blair Jones (knee), and defenseman Kris Russell (knee) are out.

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