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It took a while, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are finally figuring out how to win on the road. The Nashville Predators, though, have had little trouble winning at home of late.
The surging clubs look to continue their solid play when they meet for the first time in more than two years Thursday night in Nashville.
Tampa Bay (22-27-5) won 5-4 over St. Louis on Tuesday night to extend its season-high road winning streak to five games. Though the Lightning's 49 points are the fewest in the Eastern Conference, their recent play on the road is starting to bring them some confidence after they went 3-14-3 away from home prior to the run.
"I think we are trying to simplify things on the road," said Tampa Bay's Johan Holmqvist, who made 21 saves Tuesday for his fifth victory in his last six decisions. "For the most part, we try to keep it simple. That's the way we have to do it."
Tampa Bay, which will play the second game of a three-game trip Thursday, hasn't won six straight on the road since a seven-game run from Jan. 7-Feb. 1, 2007.
On Tuesday, Paul Ranger had two goals and Martin St. Louis scored and added two assists for Tampa Bay, winner of five of its last eight overall.
"We just keep working and finding a way to win," Lightning forward Jason Ward said. "That's our goal right now."
St. Louis recorded his second three-point game in his last three contests. He had a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay's 4-3 home win over Nashville on Dec. 10, 2005 in the teams' most recent meeting.
Thursday will mark Tampa Bay's first visit to Nashville since beating the Predators 5-2 on Feb. 5, 2004. A win over the Preds on their home ice, though, could be tougher to come by this time.
Nashville (28-21-5) won 1-0 over Carolina on Tuesday for its third straight victory overall and fourth in a row at the Sommet Center. The win kept the Predators in playoff position in the Western Conference.
J.P. Dumont scored the lone goal in the third period and Chris Mason made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
"I need to start playing like this every night. I need to give the team a chance to win," said Mason, who should be back in goal Thursday looking to avenge the December 2005 loss to Tampa Bay - his only previous start against the Lightning.
Dumont got back on track after having his 16-game point streak snapped in a 3-2 overtime win over Phoenix on Saturday. He has four goals and five assists in 15 career games against Tampa Bay.