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The Tampa Bay Lightning are winless on the road and just squandered a three-goal lead en route to their fifth consecutive defeat overall. Despite these struggles, coach John Tortorella is emphasizing the positive.
The Lightning again try to end their woes Monday when they open a home-and-home series with their Southeast Division rivals, the Florida Panthers.
Tampa Bay (5-7-1) is 0-6 on the road, getting outscored 28-10 and struggling on special teams. The Lightning have converted just 2-of-23 chances on the power play and allowed six man-advantage goals in 27 attempts.
Those struggles carried over into Tampa on Saturday, when the Lightning allowed five unanswered goals in the final 25:34 of a 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. After blistering his team in an expletive-filled tirade to the media during their recent road trip, the mercurial Tortorella this time insisted his team is close to being on track.
"I can see us getting our identity back as a club," he said. "We just have to stay together and build on the good things until we get totally consistent in all areas of our game. It's a game of results, and that's what's frustrating."
Tampa's five-game losing streak (0-4-1) is its longest since a six-game skid from Nov. 1-11, 2005. The Lightning are also mired in their longest road losing streak since going 0-6-1 from Oct. 16-Nov. 21, 2001.
Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier had three assists in Saturday's loss, but has gone eight games without a goal against the Panthers. He has just 13 goals and 34 points in 45 lifetime games versus Florida.
Florida (6-8-0) was denied its second three-game winning streak of the season after a 4-2 loss at Carolina on Saturday, extending its winless streak there to 13 games - 12 losses and one tie. The Panthers failed to contain the Hurricanes' power play, conceding two goals in four chances, and played a passive game overall.
"We sit back (on the road)," said center Stephen Weiss, whose team was outshot 40-24 - the fourth straight road game that has happened. "When we're at home, we go at them. ... We talk about (it) but we just don't do it."
The Panthers have indeed been a better team at home, going 4-2-0 and converting 27 percent (10-for-37) of their power-play chances and outshooting all but one of their opponents.
Olli Jokinen has four goals and three assists in a four-game points streak. The top-line center has five goals and five assists in Florida's six home games - four of them on the power play - and four goals and six assists in a five-game points streak versus the Lightning.
Jokinen has six power-play goals this season, three fewer than his total for all of 2006-07.
The teams, which play again Wednesday at Tampa, split two games in a four-day span in October. The Panthers jumped to a 4-0 lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory Oct. 13 as six different players scored a goal. Vaclav Prospal scored twice for the Lightning, who allowed three power-play goals.