St. Louis leads struggling Lightning into Carolina

( - The Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled to pick up wins lately, but the blame certainly can't be placed on Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis will try to keep his scoring streak alive and help the Lightning avoid a third straight loss when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for Sunday's battle at PNC Arena.

Tampa Bay's leading scorer has the longest current point streak in the NHL at seven games and he matched a franchise record with four goals in a loss Saturday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. No other Lightning player scored in the 5-4 home loss to the Sharks, who received three goals from Joe Pavelski.

Pavelski scored the game's final three goals, notching a natural hat trick over a span of six-plus minutes late in the second period.

St. Louis, meanwhile, tied a Lightning record for most goals in a game set by Chris Kontos in the franchise's first-ever regular season game on Oct. 7, 1992 against visiting Chicago.

"I did appreciate it until we were down and the game was over. It is tough to really be happy about it. I'm glad I put myself in this position, but at the end of the day we lost the game," St. Louis said.

St. Louis leads the Lightning in both goals (25) and assists (24) this season and he has 11 points (8 goals, 3 assists) during his seven-game point streak.

Ben Bishop was beaten five times on 32 shots in Saturday's loss and it's uncertain if he'll get the start on consecutive days. However, Bishop does own a 3-0 record and a 0.66 goals against average in three career starts against Carolina, logging two shutouts in the series. Lightning backup Anders Lindback is 1-2-0 with a 3.03 GA in his career against the Hurricanes.

Despite losing two straight and three of their last four games, the Bolts enter Sunday's action trailing Boston by one point for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins also play on Sunday in Chicago.

Tampa will not have defenseman Victor Hedman on the ice Sunday. He suffered a bruised ankle after getting hit with a puck in the loss to San Jose.

The Lightning are 2-0 against the Hurricanes this season and can complete the season-series sweep on Sunday. Tampa Bay posted a 3-0 win at Carolina on Nov. 1 and recorded a 3-2 overtime victory at home on Dec. 21, giving the Bolts wins in six of eight and seven of the last nine meetings in this series.

Tampa also has claimed five straight in Raleigh and hasn't lost a road test in this series since a 4-2 setback on Nov. 1, 2011.

While the Lightning dropped their second game in a row on Saturday, Carolina ended a two-game slide with a 3-2 home win over the Florida Panthers. Alexander Semin scored twice in the third period to lead the Hurricanes, who had been shut out in each of their previous two setbacks.

Riley Nash had the other tally for Carolina, while Anton Khudobin made 37 saves.

"He was sharp again today and made the game look easy," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said of Khudobin. "He made some really huge saves."

Carolina is 11-9-5 as the host this season and is completing a three-game homestand on Sunday. The Hurricanes will play their next two tests on the road beginning with Tuesday's game in Philadelphia.