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Old hands Marty, Vinny keep Bolts in playoff picture

TAMPA - Knowing when somebody is going to zig and when he is going to zag looks like intuition between teammates. It can't be practiced or mapped out. Sometimes, it just happens. Or, in the case of Lightning stars Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, happens again. The Tampa Bay veterans have been a big part of the Lightning's mini resurgence over the past seven games and heading into Tuesday's matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. During the 6-0-1 stretch, Tampa Bay's dynamic duo has rekindled some of the chemistry that made it the top scoring duo in 2006-07, when each player reached the 100-point mark and the two combined for 210 points.
As the Lightning try to claw back into the playoff picture, pulling to within eight points of the Southeast Division lead, St. Louis and Lecavalier have combined for nine goals and 14 assists while reunited on a consistent line combination in recent games. So, does that mean the magic is back? "I don't think we're reading anything into it, we are just playing the game,'' St. Louis said. "I can't say that we are doing one thing more than we did before. Last year, I feel like I played a lot of hockey with Vinny. In the playoffs, I feel like I played a lot with Vinny. I think we will always get compared to that 2006 success and I don't think that's a fair comparison.'' The point production may be nowhere near the same as that special season, when Lecavalier won the Rocket Richard Trophy with 52 goals, but the chemistry between the two is apparent. Lecavalier picked up assists on all three of St. Louis' goals on Saturday, including one of those innate plays. As St. Louis came across the blue line, he gave the puck to Lecavalier along the wall. The Lightning captain then cut to the middle of the slot and held onto the puck before slipping a pass to the back post to St. Louis. The two never made eye contact. "I don't have to see him, I kind of know that he's going to go there, just because we have played together for so long and talked about little plays,'' Lecavalier said. That St. Louis is on a roll should be of little surprise. Since returning on Dec. 21 from missing five games after taking a puck to the eye, St. Louis has picked up seven goals and 20 assists in 19 games, coming through in the clutch as he has so many times before. "Well, it's crunch time, he's Mr. Crunch and he's crunching,'' Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of St. Louis. But Lecavalier is producing, as well, with nine goals and 13 assists in the past 19 games to give the duo a combined 16 goals and 33 assists in that span. If the two can keep piling up the points while Steven Stamkos leads the league in goals and others provide secondary scoring – as Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie have – Tampa Bay has a chance to keep streaking. "Streaks happen when everybody is on top of their game and we get contributions from everybody, which is what we are getting right now,'' St. Louis said. "I'm just trying to help the team win the next game and I'm sure Vinny is thinking the same thing. I'm not worried that we have to keep clicking and we have to do this and we have to do that and hopefully this happens. "We are just trying to play the game. I think me and Vinny just understand each other's game, I know his tendencies and he knows mine.''


WHO: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning

WHERE: The Forum, Tampa

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC Sports Network; WFLA (970 AM)

INJURIES: Lightning — D Mattias Ohlund (knee), RW Dana Tyrell (knee), LW Ryan Malone (upper body), out; RW Adam Hall (upper body), D Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body), C Nate Thompson (lower body), questionable. Kings — LW Simon Gagne (concussion), RW Scott Parse (hip), out.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Tampa Bay is 16-6-4 all time, including 6-4-2 at home.

NEED TO KNOW: This is the only meeting of the season. … Los Angeles has a league-low 111 goals, not including shootouts. … Tampa Bay is 6-0-1 in its past seven games. … The Kings are 10-7-6 on the road. … RW Marty St. Louis has six goals and 10 assists during a nine-game scoring streak, the longest active streak in the league. … G Dwayne Roloson is scheduled to start, according to head coach Guy Boucher. Roloson is 7-13-5 all-time against Los Angeles with a 2.26 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. … Kings G Jonathon Quick ranks fourth in the league with a 1.91 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. … The Kings rank fifth overall in road penalty kill (86.8 percent). … Tampa Bay C Nate Thompson left practice early with what the team called "body maintenance,’’ but was seen coming back from an MRI exam, of which the results were not immediately known. … RW Adam Hall, out since Jan. 5, has been cleared to play and will be a game-time decision.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835

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