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Lightning seeks All-Star Game for Tampa

ROUGH RETURN: Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie, front, fights the Sabres’ Marcus Foligno in his first game since Oct. 8.

DIRK SHADD | Times

ROUGH RETURN: Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie, front, fights the Sabres’ Marcus Foligno in his first game since Oct. 8.

TAMPA — Could an All-Star Game be coming to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in the near future? The Lightning has asked the NHL to make it happen.

Though not naming the game specifically, team spokesman Bill Wickett said the Lightning has asked the league to host "an event."

The draft would be a tough sell in west-central Florida, and it is difficult to believe a Winter Classic could be held here. That leaves the All-Star Game, last held at the Times Forum in 1999. The stadium recently went through a $60 million makeover.

"It's always a fun event," Tampa Bay C Steven Stamkos said. "It's great for the fans to get to see that caliber of player. In those cities it's a pretty big deal."

Wickett said no applications have been submitted, though a league representative did a preliminary arena walk-through.

It could be a while before Tampa gets the All-Star Game. There won't be one this season because of the Olympics, and Columbus, scheduled to host the 2012-13 game that was cancelled because of the lockout, likely will host next season. There have been reports the Coyotes might host in 2015-16.

In other words, Jeff Vinik better start lobbying his fellow owners if he wants the game soon.

"I've never had a chance to do that before on any level," Stamkos said of perhaps playing in an All-Star Game at home. "I have seen guys who represent the team whose city is hosting. It's always a great time and pretty cool to play in front of your home fans, so it would be special."

CHANGES: The Lightning went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen Saturday against the Sabres as defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio played their second games of the season. D Andrej Sustr and RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were scratched.

"Our schedule tightens up in November, and we have to get those guys in," coach Jon Cooper said of Aulie and Barberio.

"You don't like to sit out, but it's a team game, and we've been playing really well lately," said Aulie, whose only other game was Oct. 8 at Buffalo. "Getting back in the game, you have to focus on the little things and things that are going to help the team, not try to do too much. Sometimes players try to make up for lost time and try to do things they don't normally do."

Barberio, whose other game was the Oct. 3 season-opener against the Bruins, had two shots, two giveaways and a blocked shot, and was plus-1 with 12:03 of ice time. Aulie was minus-1 with 7:05 of ice time.

MISSED CHANCE: RW Teddy Purcell was involved in an odd play when he failed to get a shot off at G Ryan Miller on a partial second-period breakaway.

"Their (defense) had inside position on me, so I tried to take his ice away," Purcell said. "Miller, he just read it the whole way. He made himself so big, and I was in so close. Looking back now, maybe I would have liked to go quick backhand, forehand, five-hole. But once he was with me, instead of wasting a shot, I tried to put it out front, maybe hit a skate, get lucky."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning's 39 shots were a season high. … Stamkos won 12 of 19 faceoffs. … Anders Lindback is expected to start in net today at Florida. … As expected, D Victor Hedman (right foot) played.

Lightning seeks All-Star Game for Tampa 10/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 26, 2013 11:17pm]

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