Avs try to extend mastery of Lightning

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche try to extend their mastery of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they continue a five-game road trip with Saturday's stop at Amalie Arena.

The Avalanche are 1-1-1 so far on their road trip but hope to pick up a second straight win in tonight's clash with the Lightning.

Colorado and Tampa have split the last four encounters, but the Avs have claimed eight of the past 10 meetings and own a 12-4-0 record with a tie over the past 17 matchups. However, the Bolts have won two straight at home in this series after dropping their previous four meetings with Colorado in Central Florida.

After losing games in Washington and Carolina to begin its current swing, Colorado posted a 4-2 win Thursday at Florida.

Nick Holden scored the go-ahead goal at 11:03 of the third period to give the Avs a 3-2 lead and Jarome Iginla added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal it.

Holden fired a point shot that deflected in off the stick of Panthers forward Scottie Upshall with one second left on a power play. Meanwhile, Iginla's goal was the 573rd of his career, moving him into a tie with Mike Bossy for 20th all-time in NHL history.

Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for the Avalanche, who are 4-1-1 over their last six games and three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"It was an important one for our confidence. I thought our guys did a good job," said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. "We were okay in the first, but I thought we played better in the second and third."

The Avs are 8-8-6 as the road club this season and will complete this trip Monday in St. Louis.

Varlamov is 6-2-1 with a 2.14 goals against average in 10 career outings against Tampa and is expected to get the start tonight.

The Lightning, who lead the Atlantic Division by three points over Detroit and Montreal, halted a two-game slide in their last trip to the ice, edging the visiting Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Thursday.

Tampa Bay trailed Edmonton by scores of 1-0 and 2-1, but was able to rally for the win thanks to a pair of third-period goals from Ondrej Palat.

Steven Stamkos also lit the lamp for Tampa Bay to help the Bolts win for the eighth time in 11 games.

"I liked the ending," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "You want to make a habit of coming back, but you don't want to make a habit of being down."

Tampa Bay was outshot 32-19 by the Oilers, but Ben Bishop made 30 saves for the victory. Bishop is expected to start tonight and is 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA in two career games against Colorado.

The Lightning have played the last two games without top defenseman Victor Hedman, who is dealing with a lower-body injury. However, he was able to skate with the club on Friday and is expected to be a game-time decision.

Hedman is leading Tampa blueliners with five goals and is tied with Anton Stralman with 20 points.

The Bolts also recalled defenseman Luke Witkowski from the minors on Friday with blueliner Matt Carle suffering from an undisclosed injury that has his status for this game unknown.

Tampa, which is 17-4-1 as the host, will head into the All-Star break by completing a three-game homestand. The Bolts will host Vancouver on Tuesday before the league goes on hiatus for the mid-season showcase.

After completing its swing in St. Louis, Colorado will host Boston on Wednesday in its final tilt before All-Star weekend.