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(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers continue what has been an up-and-down month of December tonight in Tampa Bay, where the Lightning host the struggling Blueshirts at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Rangers had moved into the Atlantic Division's top spot on the strength of a five-game winning streak earlier this month, but the inconsistent club has since lost four straight contests and now trails New Jersey by one point for first place.

The slide is New York's longest since it dropped the final five games to conclude the 2005-06 regular season.

New York appeared on its way to ending the streak on Thursday, taking a two- goal lead into the third period of its road matchup with Florida. The Panthers then struck three times in the final session to pull out a 3-2 victory.

The Rangers had been 12-0-2 this season when leading after two periods.

New York's goals came from unlikely sources, as Brad Isbister netted his first of the year while Jason Ward recorded his third tally of the season.

Kevin Weekes stopped 33 shots in place of Henrik Lundqvist, who was unavailable for the second straight game because of a stomach flu. Center Michael Nylander has sat out the team's last three contests due to the same virus. Lundqvist is expected to return tonight, but Nylander won't likely come back until after Christmas.

The Rangers were also without defenseman Marek Malik, who hasn't played since leaving Sunday's game with New Jersey with a groin strain. The blueliner is questionable for this evening's contest.

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