October 19, 2014

The Tampa Bay Lightning make no excuses for underachieving through the first half of the season. Whether they're able to do something about it remains to be seen.

Trying to avoid a fourth defeat in five games Friday night, the Lightning look to end their struggles in Edmonton against an Oilers team that's played well at home.

After hoping to build on last season's run to the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay (19-17-4) approaches its halfway mark outside of playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Hampered by an offense ranked in the league's bottom half with an average of 2.48 goals, the Lightning have not won more than three in a row.

They'll try to bounce back from opening a four-game western trip with Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Calgary.

"Definitely something's got to change," said defenseman Anton Stralman, who continues to do his part with eight points in nine games. "Right now we have the talent, we have the energy. We're just not going out and executing and working hard enough. It's got to be a mindset."

It hasn't helped that the future of 2013 third overall pick Jonathan Drouin within the organization continues to be distraction. The underachieving forward requested a trade after being assigned to Syracuse of the AHL last weekend.

"It's frustrating, but no one's feeling sorry for us right now," said star forward Steven Stamkos, who scored his team-leading 17th goal Tuesday. "We can't sit here and pout. We've got to do something about it. We can't just keep saying the right things - we've got to do it. It starts with me. I've got to be better."

Tied for the team lead with 30 points and named an All-Star for the fourth time, Stamkos has six goals in eight games, but his longest point streak is three in a row.

Despite killing all 18 penalties over its last seven games, Tampa Bay has yielded at least three goals in three of four. Ben Bishop, who joins Stamkos as an All-Star selection, has a 2.63 goals-against average - .57 higher than his season GAA - while dropping three straight.

Bishop was in net as the Lightning dropped their fourth in a row at Edmonton, 3-2 on Oct. 20, 2014.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the go-ahead goal in that contest, and he also has four assists in five games against Tampa Bay. He recorded his fifth assist in five games on Andrej Sekera's goal 2:47 into overtime of Monday's 1-0 win over Carolina.

Though last in the West with 37 points, the Oilers (17-21-3) have won nine of 11 at home and two straight after opening a six-game homestand with back-to-back defeats.

"It means a lot to get these two points ... and to build some momentum in our own rink," said Cam Talbot, who made 29 saves for his first shutout with the Oilers. "Just the way the team has been playing in our own end, it's a confidence boost for everyone."

Although Talbot has been strong with a 1.79 GAA in his last six starts, Edmonton is 1 for 19 on the power play while scoring 14 non-shootout goals in its last eight games.

Stamkos has five goals in seven games against the Oilers.

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