Tampa Bay Lightning Seek Wins Over Two Southeast Division Rivals

Lauren BurgContributor IJanuary 20, 2011

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 22:  Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on October 22, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning begin a brief, two-game road trip tonight in Atlanta. They then head to Sunrise, Florida to face the Florida Panthers before heading home for 12 straight from January 23rd to February 25th.

This will be the fifth of six meetings between the teams and the final meeting at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The teams will meet for the final time this season on Sunday, January 23rd, in Tampa. 

The Lightning have won nine straight against Atlanta dating back to last season. If they win tonight, it will mark their 10th straight win over Atlanta.

Dwayne Roloson is expected to start in net for the Lightning tonight after stopping 28 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Tampa on Tuesday night. Ryan Malone had the shootout winner in the fourth round.

On the other hand, the Lightning are 0-1-1 this season against the Panthers, 0-1 in Sunrise. They have also struggled mightily against the Panthers in recent years despite the fact that they have been the better team on paper and, more often than not, points-wise.

The Lightning are currently sitting at 59 points, one point ahead of the Washington Capitals and only six points ahead of third-place Atlanta heading into play tonight. They are only 13 points up on the last-place Panthers in the Southeast Division.

Stay tuned for more as we closely follow this tightly-contested Southeast Division battle.