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Frustration is mounting for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, who can't seem to get on track.
Tampa Bay may have a better chance at righting the ship Tuesday night as it goes for a seventh consecutive win over the NHL-worst Panthers.
The Lightning (10-14-1) have gone 4-13-1 since Feb. 2, including a 1-7-0 stretch over their last eight games. They still rank second in the league in scoring, but have averaged 2.3 goals in their past seven contests while going 3 for 27 on the power play.
Tampa Bay was in good position Saturday against Montreal before allowing three unanswered goals in the third period of a 4-3 defeat. The Lightning were outshot 13-2 over the last 20 minutes.
"Right now it gets our guys nervous whenever it gets close in these moments, and you have to get rid of that," coach Guy Boucher said. "As you saw today again, they battled with a top team and were right there, but it's that confidence that comes with results."
Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 19th goal and added an assist, but Cedrick Desjardins stopped just 25 of 29 shots in his season debut.
"We're not hungry to win, we're scared to lose right now," Stamkos told the team's official website. "When you're in these situations things creep into your head when you're not winning games and you're finding ways to lose."
The Lightning may be more confident against the Panthers (7-13-6), having outscored Florida 27-15 during a 6-0-0 run in the series, including two victories this season. They won 5-2 at home Jan. 29, then erased a two-goal deficit in the third period of a 6-5 overtime road win Feb. 16.
Stamkos totaled three goals in those games to extend his goal-scoring streak against the Panthers to seven contests.
Last in the league with 97 goals allowed, the Panthers have been outscored 15-5 during an 0-2-1 skid overall. They recorded a season-low 16 shots and gave up 38 in Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Canadiens.
"It's unacceptable," said forward Shawn Matthias, who scored his fourth goal in six games this month. "I've been through this before. It's not fun. I'm sick of losing, I'm sick of being down, it's wearing on you."
Making his fourth consecutive start in place of the injured Jose Theodore, Jacob Markstrom matched a career worst by allowing five goals Sunday. He also surrendered five in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 26, 2011, his only appearance against the Lightning.
Scott Clemmensen, meanwhile, is 2-3-2 with an NHL-worst 4.28 goals-against average this season. Clemmensen is 5-3-1 with a 2.94 GAA over nine career starts against Tampa Bay.
Slowing down Vincent Lecavalier could prove key. The Lightning are 10-3-1 when he has at least one point compared to 0-11-0 when he doesn't, and the captain has 11 goals and 15 assists over his last 22 games versus Florida.
Martin St. Louis has compiled four goals and six assists during Tampa Bay's winning streak in the series. He has two and seven over a six-game point streak overall.
Anders Lindback is 2-4-0 with a 3.74 GAA on the road in 2013, but has gone 3-0-0 with a 2.33 mark lifetime against the Panthers.
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