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Game Preview: Hurricanes vs. Lightning - 2013 Home Opener

"Settle down, it'll all be clear / Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear / The trouble, it might drag you down / If you get lost, you can always be found / Just know you’re not alone, 'Cause I’m going to make this place your home." Phillip Phillips - “Home”

Jamie Kellner

It's been a long wait, but Caniacs finally get a chance to welcome their hockey team back to home ice as the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at PNC Arena.

Carolina Hurricanes (0-1-0) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0)
January 22, 2012 - 7:00 pm EST
PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
TV: Fox Sports South - Radio: 99.9 The Fan
SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge (twitter @RawCharge)
Tailgate forecast: High 36/ Low 20

Broadcast Note: This game will not be broadcast on the regular Fox Sports Carolinas stations in the local viewing area due to a conflict with Wolfpack basketball. Sports South will carry the game; Sports South is a standard channel on Dish Network (452) and DirectTV (647SD/647-1HD), and TWC will move the broadcast over to their "special events" channels (520SD/1520HD in the Triangle).

Traffic Advisory: PNC Arena has issued a traffic advisory due to heavier than normal arena traffic that will be arriving near rush hour. For details including possible ramp closures in the Wade Avenue/Edwards Mill Road, check here: Traffic Alert

Opening Night Festivities: PNC Arena gates open at 4 pm, doors open at 6 pm. Between the two, besides tailgating in the cold, there's a party at the newly minted South Plaza (formerly the Front Lawn) featuring bands, games, and beverages.

Once inside, noted Hurricanes alumni Cory Stillman and Kevin Weekes will be signing autographs on the concourse, and there is plenty of opening night swag, including:

  • House flags for every fan in attendance
  • Prize giveaways at the whistles
  • Hat trick of food for $1- Hot dogs, popcorn, sodas
  • 50% discounts in the Eye team store

Visit the Hurricanes Opening Week page for more details.

About the Matchup

With the adjusted 48-game schedule, the Canes and Bolts will play each other five times this season, Carolina holding the home ice advantage with three games in Raleigh. The teams also played each other in last season's Hurricanes home opener, with the Lightning posting a 5-1 victory, although the Canes went on to win the six-game series with a slight 3-2-1 edge.

Hurricanes Notes

Not a lot went right for the Hurricanes in the season opener on Saturday, as they were defeated handily by the Florida Panthers by a 5-1 score. Patrick Dwyer scored the team's only goal, Cam Ward was pulled after letting in four goals in the first period, and the special teams wasted six power-play chances while giving up three goals short-handed.

Today's practice saw much line shuffling on both offense and defense, some due to Zac Dalpe's absence (sent home sick, undetermined if he can play today), partly to get a different look at the Charlotte players, and partly out of need to get something clicking on special teams, which was a primary focus. In his post-practice media interview, coach Kirk Muller explained that the changes were not made in panic, but more to implement some tweaks to address chemistry.

Following are the lines as they skated on Monday (asterisks mean position changed from Saturday's game). If Dalpe is able to play, expect him to slot on the second line with Jordan Staal and shift the other right-wingers down a line.

Drayson Bowman* - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jiri Tlusty* - Jordan Staal - Chad LaRose*
Jeff Skinner* - Jussi Jokinen - Patrick Dwyer*
Zach Boychuk - Tim Brent/Jeremy Welsh - Kevin Westgarth/Zac Dalpe*

Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Bobby Sanguinetti
Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Dan Ellis

Cam Ward (19-13-3 career against the Lightning) will get the start in net.

Tuomo Ruutu remains on injured non-roster status with a hip injury.

Lightning Notes

The Hurricanes are catching the Lightning on the tail end of a back-to-back and three-in-four series. Tampa Bay is 1-1-0 with a home win Saturday night against the Washington Capitals followed by a 4-3 loss (which wasn't that close) in a matinee yesterday against the New York Islanders that featured a couple of rounds of fisticuffs before a second had ticked off the clock. Yesterday's game was captain Vincent Lecavalier's 1000th career NHL game, and he was treated to an ovation by the Islanders fans and will receive recognition later this week when the team returns to Tampa.

Ageless spark plug Martin St. Louis shows no signs of slowing down, already with five points in just two games. St. Louis, who has 76 career points in 68 games against Carolina, will be a force to reckon with as always, along with defending Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos. Forward Cory Conacher scored a goal in his NHL debut on Saturday night; he and Stamkos both come into tonight's game with a goal and three assists to their credit.

New in net this year for the Lightning, goaltender Anders Lindback has started both games so far and has been lauded for his effort even with a 3.50 GAA. It is uncertain whether he will get his third start in four nights or whether the honors will go to Mathieu Garon, who is 3-3-0 with one shutout to his credit in six games against the Hurricanes.

Mattias Ohlund (knee) and Matt Taormina (upper body) remain on injured reserve for the Lightning.

News Clips

A must read interview with Eric Staal, from the Hurricanes Tracking the Storm blog - In which the captain comments on recharging last season, the acquisition of Alexander Semin, and his eagerness to lead the charge right out of the gate: Staal Ready to Lead Canes Back to Playoffs

More from Tracking the Storm on yesterday's new look in practice (includes CanesVision video interviews with Jeff Skinner and Jay Harrison): Canes Refocus for Home Opener

From the N&O, also from yesterday's practice: Canes Now - Canes have different look for home opener

And from WRAL: Canes prep for home opener with early loss in the past

From Lightning blog Raw Charge, a recap of the Southeast Division: Southeast Division Week 1 Round-up: One Game in

From, there are some new rules and enforcements this season, do you know what they are? Hockey Operations Update: Standards of Enforcement and New Rules

Finally... NHL fans said loudly they didn't want a gratuitous "Thank You Fans" painted on the ice after the lockout. So what if the players wear their hearts on their sleeves? Puck Daddy: Blue Jackets wear 'Thank You Fans' jerseys to soothe NHL lockout anger (includes photos)

Brian will have more analysis on our opponent later in the day, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. Welcome back home, Caniacs. See you at the rink (feels good to say that).