LIGHTNING (28-31-12) at PANTHERS (28-31-11)
: Tampa Bay 2-7-1; Florida 4-4-2.
: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. Florida has won twice, including a 5-2 victory a home-and-home series sweep back on Jan. 14 & 16.
: Despite a tremendous amount of firepower up front, the Lightning's playoff hopes are now on life support. With four straight losses and only two wins in its last 10 games, Tampa Bay needs to turn things around immediately if it hopes to make up the six points it needs to catch Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
: Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet was proud of the way his team played on Saturday night despite a 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Lightning lost all four games on their homestand and scored only five goals in those four games against playoff teams.
"It's hard. In life this is where you test your character and bounce back," Tocchet said. "I don't know what else to say. The guys worked hard."
: Florida is reeling -- even between the pipes. Tomas Vokoun was pulled for the second straight game on Saturday, a 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the Bank Atlantic Center. He was also yanked during Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Capitals.
Vokoun stopped 17 of 19 shots against Buffalo, but was pulled anyway.
"I didn't think that he was good enough. … It wasn't a good enough first period by anybody, including our goaltender," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.
: Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier
scored his team's lone goal on Saturday and has tallies in three of his last four games. … Panthers forward Gregory Campbell has four points (all assists) in his last four contests.
: Lightning defenseman David Hale is out with a broken bone in his right leg, while Mattias Ohlund
has a sprained ankle. Ryan Malone
(knee) and Zenon Kenopka (back) are also out. … Florida is boasting a healthy lineup.
: Tampa Bay has lost 11 of the past 13 games, and is 2-7-1 since the Olympic break. They also fell to 1-7-3 on home ice against the Sabres since the 2005-06 season.
: "We're playing well. We just can't win any games. These are important games and we can't find a way to win. It's always tough when you're losing games like this." -- Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki