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Steven Stamkos practices with Tampa Bay Lightning's top scorers

BRANDON — Guy Boucher is so quick to change his lines, predicting what might transpire in tonight's Lightning-Penguins Game 3 is a sketchy enterprise at best.

But it is worth noting struggling star Steven Stamkos practiced Sunday at the Ice Sports Forum, at least for a time, on a line with C Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.

Stamkos played on multiple lines in Game 2 as Boucher tested his battle level, rewarding him with spots on the top lines when it was good and demoting him to checking lines to make sure it stayed that way.

It is all part of the process to snap Stamkos out of a slump that has produced just five goals in 30 games and make him a more complete player.

"That's our coach's style. He moves guys all over the place," Stamkos said.

Even before the playoffs began, Boucher moved Stamkos to wing with Lecavalier and St. Louis to give him a different look and take some of the faceoff pressure off him.

After several games, he was back at center.

"We're going to go with what works and who is going," Stamkos said. "I think we've seen that all year. I got switched to wing and came back. That's kind of Coach Boucher's style. I think it helps in the playoffs when you can get guys moving around and maybe screwing up their D pairings."

And perhaps it is helping Stamkos, who did not get a point in Game 2 but was more active and involved and had a prime scoring chance stopped by Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury.

POWERLESS: The Penguins at Sunday's practice worked at least part of the time on their 0-for-13 power play, specifically their entries into the offensive zone and decisions with the puck once it gets in.

"They're a team that likes to pressure out initially," coach Dan Bylsma said in Pittsburgh. "Dealing with that pressure and then the opportunity to exploit the space they are creating underneath that pressure. A lot of it is execution more than certain positions."

How will Boucher counter?

"There's a lot of things, and I certainly wouldn't talk about it," he said.

TAKING SHOTS: It's nothing to be alarmed about, Boucher said. Still, Tampa Bay has taken just 53 shots in the first two games and been outshot by 26.

"Scoring chances have been the same," Boucher said.

The problem, Boucher and players said, was Pittsburgh's 13 power plays, on which the Penguins had a total of 18 shots, 10 in Game 1.

"So that's a lot," said St. Louis, who added about the disparity in shots, "I'm not alarmed by it."

TICKETS: A limited number of club level seats remain for Games 3 and 4 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Several hundred potentially unused team tickets for Game 3 might be released this afternoon to Ticketmaster.

ODDS AND ENDS: Boucher said D Randy Jones (ankle) and D Marc-Andre Bergeron (lower body) likely will be ready for Game 3, though he did not say if they will play. … The Lightning has increased to 15,000 the number of rally drums it will give out for tonight's game.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Steven Stamkos practices with Tampa Bay Lightning's top scorers 04/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2011 10:51pm]
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