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Lightning-Blue Jackets Preview

Dec 13, 2015 - 9:58 PM Steven Stamkos is on the verge of his longest goal drought since he was a rookie, though the Tampa Bay Lightning star may face a favorable situation to end it Monday night.

The lowly Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to win a game with a backup goaltender and will be forced to start one while hosting the Lightning.

Stamkos' eight-game drought has matched his longest since Nov. 30-Dec 13, 2009. His last longer one was an 11-game slide from Dec. 2-26, 2008, as a rookie.

The superstar only managed two shots in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Washington in which Tampa Bay (14-13-3) held a 36-20 edge in that category - 15-1 in a third period in which Nikita Kucherov had the club's lone tally.

The Lightning have scored two or fewer goals in six of their last eight games.

"Guys are putting themselves in good spots," coach Jon Cooper said. "Stammer had some decent looks tonight."

Columbus (11-17-3) is without Sergei Bobrovsky, who is out at least three weeks with a lower-body injury. The Blue Jackets are 0-5-1 when backup Curtis McElhinney starts, and he finally picked up a point for his club in Saturday's 3-2 overtime home loss to the New York Islanders.

McElhinney has not posted a regulation win as a starter since Feb. 19. He is 2-10-2 with a 3.27 goals-against average in his last 14 starts with two shootout victories.

The current backup goalie is Joonas Korpisalo, who has never played an NHL game. McElhinney has allowed 10 goals in losing his last three starts against the Lightning.

Stamkos has not scored in his last five games against the Blue Jackets, though Tampa Bay has other issues.

The Lightning will likely play a second straight game without Tyler Johnson, who is out with an undisclosed injury and tied Stamkos for the team lead with 72 points a season ago. Left wing Ondrej Palat exited Saturday after playing five shifts in the first period in his second game back after missing 12 straight with an ankle injury.

"I'm speechless as to how this is going," Cooper said. "We can't find a way to get guys back."

This is the start of a three-game trip and a back-to-back set for Tampa Bay, which plays Toronto on Tuesday. Ben Bishop will start one game and the other will likely go to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was recalled from the minors Sunday.

Playing two straight against the Eastern Conference's last-place clubs should boost Tampa Bay, although Columbus played well Saturday and held a 30-19 edge in shots. Cam Atkinson and Brandon Saad scored.

"We're not gonna get down," coach John Tortorella said. "I know our record is what it is. I suggest that we shouldn't even look at it, we just have to try to keep on getting better each day."

The Blue Jackets' last four home games have gone to overtime, with only one going to a shootout.

"This is much better than the shootout," Tortorella said. "This at least has some sort of team dynamic in it."