MIAMI (AP) — Though Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning have secured a playoff spot, they’re slumping offensively. Facing the Florida Panthers might get Stamkos going again.READ MORE: Monkeypox Case In Broward County Under Investigation
He’ll look to continue his past success in the series and help Tampa Bay eliminate Florida from postseason contention with a road win Saturday night.
The Lightning (47-24-8) are on the heels of first-place Montreal in the Atlantic Division and closing a five-game trip with the opportunity to clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs. They need to record just one point over the final three games to ensure they begin postseason play at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay has dropped four of five, however, totaling fourgoals in the defeats. The Lightning have averaged a league-high 3.2 goals this season.
“You want to be humming on all cylinders when you get to the playoffs,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Our compete level is really high. That’s where everything starts. You can fix all the other things.”
Stamkos, third in the league with 40 goals, is caught in a seven-game drought without a goal, his longest since an eight-game stretch Nov. 30-Dec. 13, 2009. He hasn’t scored since a March 20 win over Detroit and came up empty on four shots in a 2-1 overtime loss at Ottawa on Thursday.
He has 16 goals and nine assists in his last 16 meetings with the Panthers, a big reason Tampa Bay is 13-2-1 in the clubs’ past 16 matchups.
The Lightning are 23-7-2 this season when Stamkos scores.READ MORE: 5-Year-Old Boy Airlifted After Being Bitten By Family Dog
The absence of Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman also aren’t helping Tampa Bay’s offense. Johnson, second on the team with 67 points, has missed three games with an upper-body injury, while Hedman, who leads Lightning defensemen with 10 goals, has missed the last two with a lower-body injury. Both are day to day.
The Panthers (36-27-15) need to win their final four games and have Boston finish no better than 0-3-1 to make the playoffs. They also need Ottawa to finish with fewer than five points over its final five games.
Florida appears likely to miss the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons.
“We have to hope for a miracle,” said Jaromir Jagr, who has played 16 games since being acquired from New Jersey on Feb. 26 and has nine points in the last eight.
The Panthers are 5-4-1 in their last 10, though they matched a season high for goals in a 6-1 win over Carolina on Thursday. Vincent Trocheck had two goals and an assist.
“It’s not over yet,” Jagr said after recording a goal and an assist to push his point total to 1,798, tying Ron Francis for fourth all-time. “We knew it before this game. We have to win our games and hope for a miracle.”
Jonathan Huberdeau continued a strong stretch with two assists to give him 18 points over his last 16 contests. He has two goals and three assists in the season series, though Tampa Bay took two of the first three meetings and has won six of the last seven.
Florida plays its final four games at home, where it has won five of six and limited three consecutive opponents to one goal.MORE NEWS: Trainer's Room Busy As Heat, Celtics Prepare For Game 4
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