Kings-Lightning Preview

The Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning are still outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but they're heading in the right direction.

The Los Angeles Kings are trying to get back on track in the West.

Tampa Bay looks to extend its season-best point streak to eight games Tuesday night when it hosts a Kings team still seeking its first victory on the third stop of a season-high six-game trip.

Since losing their first seven games in January, the Lightning (23-23-5) have gone 6-0-1 including Saturday's 6-3 home victory over Florida. Despite the recent surge, Tampa Bay is currently 11th in the East and just two points ahead of Montreal and Carolina in the conference cellar.

"We've got this path in front of us and it's very narrow, so we want to stick to what we do," coach Guy Boucher told the Lightning's official website.

That means getting the puck to Martin St. Louis and captain Vincent Lecavalier, who have combined for four goals and nine assists in the club's last seven games.

Playing in his 900th NHL game, St. Louis notched his fifth career hat trick - and first since Oct. 26, 2006 - on Saturday - to extend his season-high point streak to nine. He has six goals and 10 assists during the run.

Lecavalier had season highs with three assists and four points against the Panthers.

"(St. Louis is) the perfect role model for all of us in here," said Steven Stamkos, who netted his league-leading 34th goal Saturday. "Him and Vinny - the guys who've been here a long time - they lead us."

Dwayne Roloson will be in net for the first time since Jan. 21 as Tampa Bay concludes its five-game homestand and seeks its first eight-game point streak since a 6-0-2 run Dec. 10-26, 2010.

Roloson will face a Kings team that's scored just once on the first two games of its trip.

Los Angeles (25-18-10) - two points ahead of eighth-place Minnesota in the West - saw its goals per game drop to a league-low 2.09 after Saturday's 2-1 loss to Carolina.

"The bottom line is that we're paid to score goals, and we're not doing it right now,'' Mike Richards, who has one score in his last 18 games, told the Kings' official website.

Facing the Lightning could help Richards snap out of his funk. He had nine goals and 12 assists in his last 13 games versus Tampa Bay while with Philadelphia.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter also mentioned following Monday's practice that captain Dustin Brown needs to pick up the pace after being held off the scoresheet in four straight games.

Despite the Kings' scoring woes, Boucher is well aware of Los Angeles' strength.

"I know they would like to score more goals, but the reality is, they don't give up a lot (2.08 per game)," Boucher said. "So if you're planning to beat them, you're going to beat them 2-1."

The Lightning will likely face Jonathan Quick after Jonathan Bernier turned aside 20 shots Saturday.

Among the NHL's best with a 1.91 goals-against average, Quick is 2-0-0 with a 0.48 GAA in two career starts versus Tampa Bay. He made 28 saves the last time these clubs met in Florida, a 2-1 Kings shootout victory Nov. 14, 2009.

After its 1-0 home win Nov. 4, 2010, Los Angeles has a chance to post three consecutive victories in this series for the first time.

The Kings are also trying to avoid losing three straight for the first time since an 0-5-0 slide Dec. 3-13.

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