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Lightning vs. Jets: Tampa Bay Looks To Keep Charge To Playoffs Going

Despite injuries and trades, the Lightning are still in playoff contention as the season dwindles. Can they make up ground against division co-leader Winnipeg Thursday night?

February 21, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Bruno Gervais (27) handles the puck during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE
February 21, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Bruno Gervais (27) handles the puck during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE

The Tampa Bay Lightning stand five points behind the Florida Panthers and the Winnipeg Jets for the Southeast Division lead and the final playoff spot held by the Toronto Maple Leafs entering their game Thursday night at Winnipeg. And despite trading players like Steve Downie, Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore in addition to learning captain Vincent Lecavalier will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, the Lightning scored a third consecutive victory on Tuesday, defeating Anaheim 3-2.

Steven Stamkos scored a pair of first period goals to run his league-leading total to 42. Matheiu Garon also recorded 28 saves to improve Tampa Bay's record to 10-3-2 since Jan. 7.

Despite Winnipeg being tied with Florida, they have played four more games than the Panthers, and two more than the eighth-place Maple Leafs, so they will need more wins to help their playoff chances. The Jets overcame a pair of 1-goal deficits against Philadelphia only to give up the game tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation and lost in overtime 5-4.

The opening face off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on Sunshine Sports.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.