Devils, Lightning try to end struggles in Tampa

A pair of struggling teams will meet tonight in Tampa, as the Lightning welcome the New Jersey Devils for a clash at St. Pete Times Forum.

Of the two teams, Tampa Bay is in a bigger funk currently, having lost six of its last seven games. The Lightning, who made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season, are ranked 13th out of 15 teams in the East.

New Jersey had won two straight before losing Saturday to visiting Montreal, but the Devils have lost five of seven tests overall. The Devils are 12th in the East and three points ahead of the Lightning.

The Devils have dominated the recent series with the Lightning and recorded a 4-2 win in Tampa on Nov. 19. That victory marked the 14th win in 16 meetings for New Jersey in this series overall. The Devils have also won seven of the last eight encounters at the Forum.

New Jersey lost a 2-1 decision Saturday against the visiting Canadiens. The Devils had an excellent chance to tie the game late, but Carey Price denied Zach Parise on a penalty shot in the final minute to secure the win for Montreal.

Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges was whistled for covering the puck in the crease with 49.4 seconds remaining and Montreal holding a tenuous 2-1 lead. Parise came up slowly on the penalty shot, and his backhand stayed on the ice, allowing Price to kick save the attempt with his left leg.

"I was just trying to go five-hole and I missed my shot," a frustrated Parise said. "I didn't get it back across far enough, so it was kind of an easy save for him."

Nick Palmieri netted the only goal for New Jersey, which got 22 saves from Martin Brodeur.

New Jersey played Saturday without defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who is doubtful for tonight with a hand injury.

The Devils had lost three straight on the road before notching an overtime victory Tuesday in Toronto. New Jersey is 8-8-0 as the visiting club this season.

The Lightning snapped a five-game slide with Thursday's shootout win over the New York Rangers, but Tampa was then slammed, 5-2, in Philadelphia on Saturday. The setback gave Tampa Bay a 1-3-0 record on its four-game road trip.

Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Shannon both had a goal for the Lightning on Saturday, while Mathieu Garon allowed four goals on 31 shots.

"I think we made a few mistakes and we panicked a little bit," said Garon. "But we were down one or two goals, it's not the end of the world, we have to stick with that, and hope that we do better at that."

Tampa Bay is 7-4-0 on home ice this year compared to a dismal 5-11-2 record on the road. The Lightning will complete a two-game homestand Thursday against New Jersey.

Lightning forward Martin St. Louis will miss his third straight game tonight, as he is sidelined indefinitely with facial/nasal fractures. St. Louis suffered the injury during the morning skate on Thursday when he was accidentally hit in the face with a puck by teammate Dominic Moore.

St. Louis, who is second on the club with 22 points, had a consecutive games played streak of 499 before the freak injury.