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LIGHTNING (10-8-8) at DEVILS (17-7-1)
Last 10 -- Lightning (3-4-3); Devils (6-3-1)
Season series -- The last four meetings and five of the last six between the clubs have gone to overtime or a shootout. That includes two shootout victories by the Devils at Tampa Bay this season -- 4-3 on Oct. 8 and 2-1 on Oct. 31. The Devils haven't lost a season series to the Lightning since 2006-07.
Big story -- Both teams are coming off disappointing setbacks on Wednesday. The Devils had their six-game home winning streak snapped by the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-2 loss, while the Lightning fell to 0-2-1 over their last three games following a 4-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston.
Devils -- The Devils welcomed center Rob Niedermayer back to the lineup on Wednesday in the loss to Vancouver. Niedermayer had missed 11 games with an upper body injury suffered Nov. 4 against Washington. In his first game back, Niedermayer earned 14:55 of ice time and registered two shots alongside rookies Matt Halischuk and Vladimir Zharkov. Coach Jacques Lemaire's lineup could be further bolstered with the return of defenseman Johnny Oduya, who has missed the last 14 games with a lower body injury, and forward Jay Pandolfo, sidelined the last 16 with a dislocated shoulder. Both veterans are close to returning.
Lightning -- The good news for the Lightning is the club is 4-2-3 in its last nine games on the road. Stay-at-home defenseman Matt Smaby made his season debut on Wednesday in the loss to Boston after sitting out the first 25 games as a healthy scratch. Team Canada hopeful Martin St. Louis currently holds the sixth-longest active consecutive games played streak in the NHL at 335. The Lightning have gone 0-for-13 on the power-play over their last two games after registering at least one goal with the man advantage in a season-long seven straight from Nov. 16-28.
Who's hot -- Devils left wing Zach Parise has scored 9 goals and 6 assists in his last 11 games, and linemate Travis Zajac has notched 10 points in his last nine games. Despite being held without a point in his two previous games, Tampa Bay sophomore Steven Stamkos still leads the club with 17 goals and 29 points.
Injury report -- The Devils will be missing forwards David Clarkson (leg) and Dainius Zubrus (leg), and defensemen Paul Martin (arm). Pandolfo (shoulder) and Oduya (lower body) are questionable. There are no significant injuries to report for Tampa Bay.
Stat pack -- Since Feb. 17, 2009, Tampa Bay's Stamkos is tied for first with Alex Ovechkin among all NHL scorers with 33 goals. Columbus' Rick Nash is second with 32.
Puck drop -- Both teams need points to maintain pace with their division leaders. The Devils are three points behind the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Atlantic, while the Lightning trail the Washington Capitals by 10 points in the Southeast.
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