Hurricanes Record: 20-18-9 (49 pts.)
Lightning Record: 28-16-5 (61 pts.)
The Canes and Lightning wrap up their three-game season series tonight, and their second back-to-back. Both teams played yesterday. The Canes played later and at home and in a 3-2 victory over the Panthers. The Lightning played earlier in the day but were defeated by the San Jose Sharks 5-4.
The Lightning are currently second in the Atlantic Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference, firmly entrenched in a playoff spot. They own the series against Carolina this season with two wins, one in regulation (3-0 on November 1) and one in overtime (3-2 on December 21). In fact, the Lightning have owned the series with the Canes for several years now. They won the 2012-13 season series 4-1-0, they've won six out of the last seven meetings, and eight of the last nine at PNC Arena.
Martin St. Louis scored all four goals for the Lightning yesterday, a personal best, and he's been lighting up the scoreboard since his Team Canada snub with 8 goals and 11 points in the last 7 games. He has 86 points in 75 career games against the Hurricanes.
Victor Hedman left yesterday's game after blocking a shot off his leg. He was later seen on crutches but was reported to just be suffering from a bruise. He did travel with the team to Raleigh but his status for tonight's game is uncertain.
Big Ben Bishop was in net for the Lightning in yesterday's loss and made 27 saves on 32 shots, but his past performance against the Canes could lead to a back-to-back opportunity in net. Bishop is 3-0-0 with a .66 GAA and two shutouts in net against the Canes. Backup netminder Anders Lindback is 1-2-0 with a 3.02 GAA in three career games. Previous indications have been that the goaltenders would split the weekend's games, but nothing has been confirmed.
The Hurricanes won't practice today and with last night's success there will likely be little roster shuffling unless there are unknown maladies coming out of last night or a need for fresh legs. Brett Bellemore and Ryan Murphy were both healthy extras yesterday and could draw in tonight. Drayson Bowman has missed two games with a lower body injury but may be well enough for the lineup if needed. It is expected that Justin Peters will get starts in net between now and the Olympic break (with 11 games in 22 days), but with Anton Khudobin's sustained impressive performance, Kirk Muller could decide to continue to ride the hot hand again tonight.
Note the early start time. If you're going, get thee to the arena early to pick up your Jordan Staal bobblehead. We'll have the open game thread ready by 4:30 pm. The Canes are in their black third jerseys today. See you at the rink.