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Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, with new linemate Marty St. Louis, tries to break scoring slump against Sharks

BRANDON — Zero goals in seven games this season. Zero goals in 14 games, including the final seven last season.

Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier has had the numbers etched into his brain this week by reporters asking daily about the drought, the second longest — by three games — of his 11-season career.

"I mean, physically I feel good," Lecavalier, 29, said Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum. "Maybe I need to start driving to the net more. That's where I've gotten a lot of my success before … instead of going for a big shot, maybe go for more of a wrist shot.

"Maybe," he finally added, "just get back to basics."

The undertaking took on a sense of urgency Sunday, the first of four days without a game, when coach Rick Tocchet put right wing Marty St. Louis on Lecavalier's line to give the four-time All-Star center a boost.

The team's two biggest stars were paired from 2006-08, when Lecavalier combined for 92 goals and 200 points in his two most productive seasons.

But when discussing Lecavalier's resurgence, which the Lightning hopes starts tonight against the Sharks at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, numbers are not necessarily a priority.

"Am I looking for Vinny to get a hat trick? No," Tocchet said. "I would love him to have a hat trick. But I'm looking for him to play solid hockey. I've said it, he has to get uglier. Any time you're in a slump, you go into those (scoring) areas even more. "

"You're looking for how many opportunities you get," Lecavalier said. "Are you more in their zone? Are you skating well with the puck? Are you getting Grade A chances?"

Little of that has happened for Lecavalier, especially in his past two games, in which he had two shots on goal while his team lost twice and was outscored 11-2.

Part of it is situational. Lecavalier is in a different position on the power play, less against the side wall, where he could more easily take the puck to the net or get into firing position. Lecavalier now takes turns at the blue line, where the job is to distribute the puck to St. Louis at the side wall or sharp-shooting Steven Stamkos in the slot, or get it to the net.

But even that was difficult the past two games; Lecavalier had 10 shots blocked.

"It's all confidence," Lecavalier said. "I mean, it's more blurry. I don't see as many holes. I have to start maybe using a wrist shot to make it easier to pick out the holes to shoot at and hit the net. If it doesn't go in, the rebounds are there for (Ryan Malone)."

Lecavalier, who dealt with shoulder and wrist surgeries the past two summers, also has struggled with puck possession and playing five-on-five. On that score he is not alone; the team has only 10 even-strength goals.

But Lecavalier is a key to a resurgence, and that, perhaps, is where St. Louis and rookie linemate James Wright can help.

"I've really tried to lift my tempo as much as I could in practice," Lecavalier said. "And those guys are so fast, you have to keep up with them."

"I know Vinny's game, and he knows mine," St. Louis said. "We understand each other, and we're good at communicating. Are we going to score on our first shift? I don't know, but we're going to try and go from there."

Streaks to forget

The longest streaks without a goal in Vinny Lecavalier's career:

Games Start Finish

17 2/26/99 4/3/99

14 3/17/09 TBD

13 1/7/99 2/3/99

12 11/8/98 12/6/98

12 2/12/08 3/7/08

11 Four times

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, with new linemate Marty St. Louis, tries to break scoring slump against Sharks 10/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 12:07am]
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