Blackhawks-Lightning Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 04, 2011
Tampa Bay's strong play at home of late has helped the team overcome a rough start. The Lightning, however, could be in for a stiff challenge when they try for a fourth straight home victory Friday night against a Chicago Blackhawks club looking for a fourth consecutive win overall. After opening the season with a 5-1 win at Carolina, Tampa Bay (5-5-2) dropped five straight games, including a 7-4 defeat to Florida in its home opener Oct. 17. Since that loss to the Panthers, however, the Lightning have outscored the New York Islanders, Buffalo and Winnipeg 8-1 during a three-game home winning streak. Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon recorded a shutout each in the last two victories. Tampa Bay has never posted three consecutive shutouts at home. "We have a defense-first mentality," coach Guy Boucher told the Lightning's official website. "It's a mindset. The number one thing is competitiveness, who wants it most. "We love to be home. The energy is great." The Lightning hope to feed off that friendly energy as they try to bounce back after losing for the second time in three games, 4-2 at Carolina on Tuesday. "We have done more than talked about this," Boucher said. "Except for the third period, we didn't earn anything." Steven Stamkos had his six-game point streak snapped against the Hurricanes, but he has a point in each of his four home games this season. He's tallied four goals with an assist in two career home games versus Chicago. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron increased his team-leading point total to 13 with an assist Tuesday. Roloson, who stopped 28 shots in a 1-0 win over the Jets on Saturday, made 27 saves versus Carolina. He has won his last three starts against the Blackhawks despite posting a 3.16 goals-against average over that span. Garon, who hasn't played since being pulled from a 5-3 loss at Nashville on Oct. 27, has a 4.04 GAA while losing five straight starts versus Chicago. For the first time since 2002-03, Tampa Bay faced the Blackhawks twice last season, winning both contests. Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 home shootout victory over Chicago on March 9. Chicago's Patrick Kane, who has three goals and six assists in five career games versus Tampa Bay, scored the lone goal in Thursday's shootout to help give the Blackhawks (8-2-2) a 3-2 win against the Panthers in the first leg of their Florida trip. Kane added an assist during regulation while Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa scored as Chicago won for the fourth time in five games. "I thought we could have played better the whole game, but the most important thing is that we got the two points," Kane said. Corey Crawford stopped a season-high 41 shots Thursday and could be back in net for this contest. He posted a 1.93 GAA versus Tampa Bay in 2010-11 despite losing both games. The Blackhawks hope to have star defenseman Duncan Keith back on the ice after he missed Thursday's game with a hand injury. Keith has a goal and three assists in six games against the Lightning.
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