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Lightning try to regroup against Penguins

by John Kreiser

LIGHTNING (8-5-2) at PENGUINS (7-8-1)

TV -- RIS, SUN (HD); FS-Pittsburgh (HD)

Last 10 -- Tampa Bay 4-4-2; Pittsburgh 4-5-1

Season series -- It's the second of four meetings this season. Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh 5-3 at the St. Pete Times Forum on Oct. 27. The Lightning have won nine of their last 12 in Pittsburgh, though this is their first visit to the new Consol Energy Center.

Big story -- What a daily double -- visiting Alex Ovechkin and Washington on Thursday, followed by a trip to Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby the next night. That's the task confronting the Lightning, who were tied 2-2 early in the third period against the Caps before Alexander Semin's hat trick gave Washington a 6-3 win. The Penguins figure to be in an ornery mood after surrendering five goals in the third period to Boston on Wednesday, turning a 4-2 lead into a 7-4 loss.

Team Scope:

Lightning -- The Bolts didn't lack for chances in the game at Washington -- they fired 41 shots and tested Michal Neuvirth early and often. But only Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos managed to beat the rookie goaltender.

"We had chances to win the game," said Stamkos, who leads the NHL with 14 goals. "We didn't bury opportunities. ... They come down and score. That's the way it goes sometimes."

Penguins -- The Penguins looked like they were on their way to a victory on Wednesday before falling apart in the third period.

Captain Sidney Crosby thinks the Penguins need to play a little smarter, especially in their own zone.

"I think it's just taking chances that you might not have to. And obviously when you have a lead you never want to sit back," he told the team's website. "That's the worst thing you can do. You want to also make sure you're not giving up big chances and you want to err on the side of caution. We just need to be a little bit smarter, whether it's in the defensive zone or making good reads and maybe pulling back. Little details like that can create some problems."

Who's hot -- Stamkos has 4 goals and 6 points in his last three games. Martin St. Louis has four points in that same span. … Crosby had a goal and a pair of assists on Wednesday and is 4-3-7 in his last three games.

Injury report -- The loss at Washington also cost the Lightning their captain. Vincent Lecavalier left the game with a broken right hand and will miss at least three weeks. Winger Steve Downie (back) didn't play Thursday and isn't expected to be in the lineup on Friday. Simon Gagne (neck) is out indefinitely. … Penguins star Evgeni Malkin didn't practice Thursday after twice needing attention from the trainers during Wednesday's game. Coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't say whether Malkin will play. Center Jordan Staal is still out with a broken hand.

Stat pack -- Martin St. Louis had a pair of goals in the win last month and has 38 points in 38 games against the Penguins in his career. … Pittsburgh is 2-5-0 in its new home and plays four of its next five games there.

Puck drop -- With the new format adopted for this year's All-Star Game, it's not impossible that Crosby could be one of the captains picking a team. While he admits that "it would be fun," he says there could be some drawbacks.

"There would be a little bit of pressure that comes with it," he said. "You don't want a guy to leave someone off their team, but I don't know how they're going to do it. Nobody wants to be the last guy picked either. Either way, it's going to be fun for everyone involved."

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