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Flames look to break out of slump with matchup vs. Lightning

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The Sports Network
1/3/2014 10:49:57 AM
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The Calgary Flames look to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat tonight when they battle the Tampa Bay Lightning in Calgary. The team has been outscored 8-1 over its current slump. The Flames began a five-game homestand with a shootout win over St. Louis on Dec. 23, but were shut out by Edmonton and Vancouver in their first two games after the Christmas break.

Rookie Sean Monahan finally got the Flames a goal in Tuesday's meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was the only one in a 4-1 setback.

"We're building a new culture and we have some young players who we want to give some ice time and learn what to do out there," said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley. "But right now is a tough time because we're not scoring goals."

Reto Berra gave up three goals on 20 shots for a Flames club that has been shut out in three of its last eight games.

While it might not help the offense, defenseman Dennis Wideman is on track to return tonight for the Flames. He has been sidelined since breaking his hand on Nov. 27, missing 16 straight games.

Forward Lee Stempniak did miss practice on Thursday, however, due to illness.

Tampa Bay meanwhile, look for a second victory in as many games on their current road trip Friday night against a Flames club that continues to struggle on offense.

The Lightning began a four-game swing through Western Canada with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. It was Tampa Bay's fourth straight win on the road and gave the club a 6-1-1 record over its last eight games overall.

Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov all scored in the third period for the Lightning, who also visit Edmonton and Winnipeg on the trip, and Ben Bishop made 28 saves.

Filppula, who also had an assist, and Johnson scored 20 seconds apart to give the Bolts the lead and Kucherov responded with a power-play tally with three seconds left in the frame just over four minutes after the Canucks tied it.

Alex Killorn had a goal in the third period after assisting on Filppula's goal.

"We played a solid road game," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "We fell behind, found a way to get the lead and held on to it."

Filppula has notched 32 points in 40 games this season, including five goals and seven assists over his last eight games, while Johnson has three goals and an assist in his past four.

Bishop improved to 21-5-3 with a 1.89 goals against average and .935 save percentage in 30 starts this season. He is 0-2-0 with a 3.55 GAA in two previous meetings with the Flames.

The Lightning have won seven of their past 10 versus the Flames and three of the previous four played in Calgary.

The Flames will give former Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo the start tonight. He was a sixth-round pick by the Bolts in 2004 and appeared in 48 games with the club through 2008-09 before going to the Kontinental Hockey League. He has never before faced Tampa Bay.

Sean Monahan (Photo: Brad Watson/NHL via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Brad Watson/NHL via Getty Images)
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