(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers try to begin an important road trip with a victory when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Tuesday's Atlantic Division battle at Amalie Arena.
The Panthers won the last two tests of a three-game homestand and hope to keep heading in the right direction when they start a five-game swing in Tampa. With 80 points, Florida finds itself five points behind Ottawa for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining on its schedule. Boston is four points ahead of the Panthers, but both the Bruins and Ottawa are idle on Tuesday.
Florida earned a shootout victory its last time out, beating the visiting Bruins, 2-1, in Saturday's tilt at BB&T Center.
The Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the opening period, but Boston scored the only other goal in regulation early in the second stanza. However, Florida would earn the extra point thanks to Brandon Pirri, who notched the lone score of the shootout.
Each of the first three shooters failed to reach the desired result, before Pirri ended the second round with a series of stick fakes which pulled Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask out of position long enough for Pirri to score inside the left post.
Roberto Luongo then secured the victory for the Panthers by stopping Ryan Spooner's chance.
"This is the stretch we want to be in," Pirri said. "We put ourselves in a position to have a fight for it."
Jimmy Hayes tallied in regulation for the Panthers, while Luongo ended up with 26 stops. Jaromir Jagr participated in his 1,540th NHL contest, tying him with Johnny Bucyk for 12th place on the all-time list.
Florida is 15-14-7 as the visiting team this season and will continue this swing Thursday night in Toronto.
The Lightning enter Tuesday riding a three-game win streak and are coming off a win over the Bruins on Sunday. Vladislav Namestnikov, J.T. Brown and Ondrej Palat each tallied a goal and an assist to power the Bolts to the 5-3 home win.
The victory pulled Tampa within two points of Montreal for the Atlantic lead. The clubs each have nine games left on their schedules and the Canadiens play tonight in Nashville.
Jason Garrison and Anton Stralman also scored on Sunday, while Ben Bishop made 25 saves for the Lightning, who improved to 7-1-1 over their last nine outings.
"We feel like we can win any game," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "We may not win every game, but we feel like we can."
The Lightning are 3-1-0 on a six-game homestand that is set to end Thursday against Nashville. Tampa already has set a club record for home wins in a season and boasts a 29-7-1 record as the host.
Florida halted a five-game losing streak in the series with the Lightning on March 1, when it notched a 4-3 regulation win on home ice. Tampa has still claimed 12 of the past 15 encounters with the Panthers, who have lost three straight in Central Florida.