It's another back-to-back for Carolina, this time with a home-and-home scenario as the Hurricanes, (34-29-10) start things off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, (39-23-11) tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Canes are in the same position now that they have been in awhile, in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Buffalo Sabres. Forget about catching the New York Rangers, who are now seven points ahead as they sit comfortably in the 7th spot.
With just nine games left, obviously every game is crucial and the Hurricanes are well aware that it is important to capture every point they possibly can. Buffalo faces the Panthers at home tonight.
Carolina has a 1-1-1 record against this team so far this season. The last time the teams met on February 12, the Canes scored twice in the last minute to tie the game 3-3, before losing in OT. The club has a 13-4-2 record against the Bolts in their last 19 games.
The Hurricanes have won two games in a row, but they are a very mediocre 5-4-1 in their last 10.
The Lightning have been reeling a bit. They have lost five of their last seven and they are 2-4-4 in their last 10.
Carolina Captain Eric Staal left the Ottawa game early and took the past couple of on-ice practices off to rest a lower body ailment, but he will play tonight. He currently has a two-game scoring streak, as does Chad LaRose, Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu, Joni Pitkanen, Erik Cole, and Jussi Jokinen.
Expect the same lines tonight as in recent games.
- Stillman, Staal, Cole
- Jokinen, Ruutu, Skinner
- LaRose, Sutter, Bowman
- Tlusty, Dwyer, Samson
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, Allen
- Harrison, Joslin
Maurice has been mixing the defensive pairings liberally and he could also switch up Bowman and Tlusty, depending upon who is playing better this particular night.
Jamie McBain will sit this one out, but could play tomorrow night. Troy Bodie remains the healthy extra.
Cam Ward will play tonight and is supposed to start tomorrow night as well.
The Lightning will be hoping to clinch a playff spot this weekend, so they have plenty to play for as well. If they can sweep the Canes, they guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.
But as mentioned earlier, the Lightning have been struggling in recent games. Steven Stamkos only has 3 goals in the last 19 games. Vincent Lecavalier hasn't had that problem though and has three goals and five points in the last five games.
Martin St. Louis has 62 points in 59 career games against Carolina.
Ryan Malone and Steve Downie have both been out with injuries, but Downie could return tonight.
Dwayne Roloson will probably be in net. (Unofficial).
Our friends at Raw Charge will have more info about the Lightning.
Eric Staal has 49 points in 44 career games against the Bolts. Other point per game producers against Tampa include Jeff Skinner, (four points in three games), and Drayson Bowman, (two goals in one game).
Can the Canes extend their two game winning streak? FS Carolinas will have the local television broadcast starting at 7:30.