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NEXT UP: NORTH STARS

Who: Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0) vs. Minnesota North Stars (1-1-0).

When: 8:05 tonight

Where: Met Center, Bloomington, Minn.

TV/radio: WTOG-44; WQYK-1010 AM.

Coaches: Tampa Bay _ Terry Crisp. Minnesota _ Bob Gainey.

Players to watch: Minnesota _ Mike Modano, right wing; Mike Craig, right wing; Neal Broten, center; Gaetan Duchesne, left wing; Mark Tinordi, defenseman; Jon Casey, goaltender. Tampa Bay _ Brian Bradley, center; Chris Kontos, left wing; John Tucker, left wing; Rob Zamuner, left wing; Mikael Andersson, right wing; Rob Ramage, defenseman; Wendell Young, goaltender.

What to expect: If you count preseason, this will be the Lightning's third game against Norris Division rival Minnesota, which reached the Stanley Cup finals two years ago.

In the preseason, the Lightning won 5-2 and tied 4-4. Minnesota had a 20-16-4 home record last season (.550 percentage), which was fourth-worst in the league.

But this will be a different North Stars team than the Lightning saw last month. North Stars goaltender Jon Casey and center Neil Broten missed both preseason games.

The biggest difference will be the venue. And not just because it will be a hostile environment for the visiting Lightning. The rink at the Met Center is wider and longer than the one in Expo Hall, which allows the North Stars, especially Modano, to parlay speed and skill into scoring opportunities. That will be a definite contrast to the Lightning's first game against Chicago, in which physical play _ and penalties _ contributed to a herky-jerky rhythm.

"There will be more flow, more moving the puck around than against Chicago," Lightning assistant Wayne Cashman said. "And they have guys that want to play that type of game."

Like Modano, who last season had 33 goals and 44 assists. He has a goal and three assists after two games this year.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN

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