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GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (13-7-4-1) at Ottawa Senators (12-9-3-3).TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
After ending a long losing streak at Ottawa in their last game there, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to make it two straight at the Corel Centre in the finale of a four-game trip.
The Lightning had lost 10 straight games at Ottawa before Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves in a 2-1 victory on March 1. Tampa Bay lost the first meeting between the teams in 2003-04 at home on Dec. 4, and is 2-10-1 against the Senators since the start of the 2000-01 season.
After opening their trip with consecutive wins over Buffalo and the New York Rangers, the Lightning allowed five unanswered goals Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders.
Pavel Kubina and Ruslan Fedotenko scored for Tampa Bay, which was denied its first three-game win streak since Nov. 14-22. The Lightning lost for the fourth time in six games while playing their fourth game in six nights.
"We gave them goals," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We gave them two freebies when they were dead in the water."
The biggest culprit during Tampa Bay's recent struggles is an offense that has scored just 19 goals in the past 11 games. Center Brad Richards, who had 17 goals and a career-high 74 points last season, has one goal in his last 19 games.
"It bothers me a lot, not just a little bit," Richards said. "The only thing I can do is put it on my shoulders to get out of it. There's nothing else, I just have to get myself out it."
Khabibulin has won only one of his last six games (1-3-2) despite allowing just 12 goals in that span. He has struggled in 12 career starts against Ottawa, going 4-5-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average.
After missing Ottawa's previous four games with flu, starting goalie Patrick Lalime returned Monday at Boston and stopped 21 shots in a 2-2 tie.
Martin Prusek injured his lower back in pregame warmups, forcing Lalime into the start even though he was not yet 100 percent healthy.
"You never know what's going to happen," said Lalime, who has lost a few pounds due to the illness. "(Prusek) helped me out last week, and I had to do the same for him."
The Senators would've taken a five-game unbeaten streak into Thursday had they not allowed New Jersey to score two goals in the final 97 seconds of a 2-1 loss on Saturday.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson was held without a point Monday, ending his nine-game point streak.
Right wing Marian Hossa picked up his eighth assist in the last 10 games, but has no goals in that stretch.
|Mar 29 '04||OTT 5 at TBL 4 - OT||C. Phillips|
|Jan 06 '04||TBL 2 at OTT 5||J. Spezza|
|Dec 11 '03||TBL 2 at OTT 3||M. Hossa|
|Dec 04 '03||OTT 4 at TBL 1||J. Spezza|