Oilers-Lightning Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)

The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their success against the Western Conference by beating a popular preseason Stanley Cup pick their last time out.

After a long break, they'll face the weakest team in the West as they look to stay unbeaten in interconference play Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

Tampa Bay (10-4-0) has been off since defeating St. Louis 4-2 on Saturday. The Lightning got third-period goals from Brett Connolly and Valtteri Filppula, while Alex Killorn had a goal and two assists and Steven Stamkos also scored.

Tampa Bay is 5-0 against West opponents, with two victories over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago.

"I think progress is probably the correct word because we've played some of these upper echelon teams," coach Jon Cooper said. "I thought we earned the victory (Saturday) against an extremely good opponent. That's the progress because we're playing an elite team and I think we more than hung with them."

The Lightning outscored an opponent 2-0 in the third for the second straight game and recorded 14 shots on goal over the final 20 minutes.

Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop made 28 saves and stopped a breakaway in his first game against the team that drafted him. Bishop has posted a 1.51 goals-against average in his last four outings.

"I thought it was a little bit of a measuring stick," Bishop said of beating the Blues, now 9-2-2. "We want to be in the same category as those guys."

Stamkos scored for the fourth straight game and has six goals and four assists during a six-game point streak. His 11 goals and 20 points are among the most in the league for the Lightning, whose 47 goals are one of the highest totals in the East.

While numerous West teams have gotten off to excellent starts, Edmonton (4-10-2) isn't one of them. The Oilers did manage to snap a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory at Florida on Tuesday.

Mark Arcobello scored his first two career goals, the second in the extra period, while defenseman Taylor Fedun scored in his NHL debut and Philip Larsen got his first goal of the season.

"I want to help the team win, too, that's the biggest thing," Arcobello, who had 10 assists in October, told the team's official website. "The chances I've been missing could have helped our team win the game so it's nice to be able to contribute tonight."

The Oilers had been outscored 9-0 in their prior two games and hadn't recorded a goal for 163 minutes, 49 seconds before Larsen scored late in the first period.

"I thought we took some baby steps in the right direction," coach Dallas Eakins said. "I liked that we stayed in the fight."

Arcobello's second goal came on the power play, but Edmonton has converted at a woeful 13.5 percent rate this season. The Oilers have gone 2 for 32 in the last 11 games, and on Wednesday recalled forward Linus Omark from the AHL, where he leads Oklahoma City with eight goals - three on the power play.

They'll get some additional offensive help Thursday with left wing Taylor Hall making his return after missing seven games due to a knee injury.

''I've been healing well and working hard on my rehab,'' said Hall, who has three goals and five assists in nine games. ''It got to the point where I'm doing so well and I'm feeling good enough with my knee that I have to play.''

A road-heavy schedule may be contributing to the Oilers' early problems, though the club is 3-5-2 away from home as compared to 1-5-0 at Rexall Place. Edmonton opened a four-game trip Tuesday.

The Oilers have had success against Tampa Bay recently, going 3-0-1 in the past four meetings.