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Lightning pay rare visit to Dallas

by Brian Hunter /

LIGHTNING (10-6-7) at STARS (11-7-7)

Last 10 - Tampa Bay 5-2-3; Dallas 5-4-1

Season series - These clubs meet for the only time in the 2009-10 season. The Lightning rallied for three goals in the third period to beat the Stars 4-2 at TampaBay on Jan. 19 of last season. Steven Stamkos scored the game-tying goal and Vincent Lecavalier's power-play tally proved to be decisive. Mike Smith made 23 saves.

Big story - Tampa played at home on Friday night and left shortly after its 5-1 win over the New York Rangers to fly to Dallas for Saturday's game. For whatever the travel and playing a second game in 24 hours takes out of the Lightning, they should be bolstered by coming off what forward Martin St. Louis called "our best 60 minutes as a team in a long time." The Stars, by comparison, are licking their wounds and looking to regroup after a 5-2 loss in Phoenix on Friday.

Team Scope:

Lightning - John Tortorella led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004, but was fired following the 2007-08 season. He returned to the St. Pete Times Forum for the first time Friday since taking over in the second half of last season as coach of the Rangers, and the Lightning greeted him rudely. Kurtis Foster led the attack with two goals and Stamkos continued his first-half tear with his team-leading 16th of the season.

''It wasn't much of Tortorella being in the building, but there were a lot of us not happy with the game against Toronto,'' Foster said, referring to a 4-3 loss Wednesday on home ice. ''We wanted to bring out 'A' game tonight so we'd get the win.''

Stars - Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro scored 1:52 apart in the third period, but it was far too late at that point for Dallas, which dug itself a 5-0 hole and lost for the second time this season to former coach Dave Tippett.

''They capitalized on the chances they got,'' said Marc Crawford, who took over behind the bench this season. ''Our impatience really showed. They got a couple of opportunities because we turned the puck over because of our impatience.''

Who's hot - Foster, in his first season with the Lightning after two seasons with the Thrashers and four with the Wild, has 3 goals and 5 points this season - all in his last four games. Stamkos has three straight multi-point efforts. St. Louis has 7 assists in his last three games and 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) during a six-game points streak.

Brad Richards, part of Tampa Bay's Cup-winning team, had 1 goal and 7 assists for the Stars in three games prior to Friday, when he was held without a point. Morrow has goals in two straight.

Injury report -- Tampa Bay is without three defenseman: Mattias Ohlund has been battling a foot/ankle injury, Paul Ranger has been away from the team for personal reasons and Matt Smaby (finger) was assigned to Norfolk of the AHL for a conditioning assignment. … Dallas forward Brian Sutherby is on injured reserve due to a groin injury.

Stat pack - Victor Hedman, the defenseman taken by the Lightning with the second pick in this year's Entry Draft, picked up his sixth point of the season with an assist against the Rangers. Hedman, who won't turn 19 until mid-December, has already developed into a steady member of the team's blue line, averaging the second-most ice time per game (23:20) and posting a plus-1 rating.

Puck drop - Will Mike Smith play for the second night in a row and get to face his former team or will Tampa turn to Antero Niittymaki, whose .932 save percentage leads the League? Dallas, meanwhile, started Marty Turco on Friday but pulled him in favor of Alex Auld late in the second period.

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