Thrashers Recap/Panthers Preview 1/21/11

The Lightning completed the first half of their Southeast division back-to-back with a shootout win over the Atlanta Thrashers.  Steven Stamkos added to his league-leading goal total yet again and Dominic Moore scored the decisive goal in the shootout, giving the Lightning their second straight win.

This was also the second straight game in which Stamkos provided the whole of the Lightning offense.  He scored both goals in regulation, giving him six goals over a four game goal streak.  Dwayne Roloson had another solid performance, stopping 27 of 29 shots before the shootout.

The Lightning don’t have much time to relish in this win as they get on a plane headed for Sunrise, FL.  They are set to take on the Panthers Friday, a team that is struggling to keep its distant playoff hopes alive.  Florida currently sits in 11th place, six points out of a playoff position.  It is getting to a point for their team that every game is a must-win.

The Lightning have to be sharp against the Panthers.  While Florida doesn’t have many well-known offensive threats, they are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.  Realizing their position, they have been putting together terrific efforts, and the Lightning are going to have to match their intensity.

With Stamkos on a tear, the offense will be OK.  However, the rest of the team is going to have to follow suit soon.  It is pretty concerning that he is the only player who has scored (other than in a shootout) in the last two games.  Without a stringent defense, this team needs to live on its offense, and it can’t just come from one guy.

With Roloson playing in Atlanta, it is likely that Dan Ellis will get the nod in net.  This could be the beginning of an audition for Ellis, either to trade him or to make his case for sticking around now that Mike Smith is healthy.  The three-goaltender situation isn’t an enviable one, and changes are inevitably coming.

For now, the Lightning must continue to apply pressure on the division, with another important game they can’t afford to overlook.

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