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TONIGHT: vs. OILERS

What: Tampa Bay Lightning (23-32-8) at Edmonton Oilers (16-38-10).

When/where: 8:05, Northlands Coliseum.

TV/radio: Sunshine Network; WFNS-AM 910, WLVU-FM 106.3.

The series: This is the first meeting of the season. The Lightning was 2-2 against the Oilers last season, winning at home and losing on the road.

Who's hurt: Tampa Bay _ defenseman Donald Dufresne aggravated the injury to his left knee and did not make the trip. Edmonton _ left wing Shayne Corson (fractured fibula), left wing Vladimir Vujtek (shoulder) and right wing Steve Rice (fractured hand) are not expected to play.

About the Lightning: Daren Puppa will be in goal. He's fourth in the NHL in goals-against average at 2.54 and has an 18-25-5 record. His 18 wins are his second most in a season. His best season was in 1989-90 when he went 31-16-6 and was a second-team All-Star.

About the Oilers: The glory years are over. After making the playoffs for their first 13 years and winning five Stanley Cups, they are headed for their second consecutive season of no post-season play. The Oilers are in last place in the weak Pacific Division, and the firing of Ted Green (replaced by Glen Sather) did nothing to help their plight.

Edmonton is coming off a 5-5 tie Thursday with Los Angeles. The Kings peppered 53 shots against the porous Oilers defense. Edmonton has allowed 237 goals, fifth most in the NHL. Bill Ranford likely will be in goal. He has played in a league-high 58 of the Oilers' 64 games.

Edmonton features center Jason Arnott, the seventh overall pick in the 1993 entry draft. He is third in the rookie scoring race with 54 points (24 goals and 30 assists). Only Ottawa's Alexei Yashin (61 points) and Philadelphia's Mikael Renberg (59 points) are ahead of him.

Notable: This will be the first time former Lightning defenseman Bob Beers faces Tampa Bay since being traded Nov. 12 for defenseman Chris Joseph.

Beers is second among Oilers defensemen in scoring with 38 points (nine goals and 29 assists), but has the worst plus/minus rating at minus-21. Beers played 16 games for the Lightning with one goal, five assists and a minus-10 rating.

_ CAMMY CLARK

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