The Carolina Hurricanes will put their five-game winning streak on the line Thursday night as the take on the class of the NHL in 2018-19 thus far, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canes will do so in the initial game of a back-to-back that will see them return home for a Friday matchup against the Buffalo Sabres. If the winning streak survives into the weekend, it will be the best sign yet that the Canes may have turned a corner of sorts in their climb into postseason relevance.
Petr Mrazek will get the nod in net for the Canes as they look to sweep the three-game road trip. Mrazek got the trip started with a slightly sub-par effort in a 5-4 win in Ottawa. The lineup still does not include Jordan Staal, but the solid performances from Greg McKegg and Saku Maenalanen in their recent lineup cameos have given Carolina hope that some forward depth may be available internally.
Below is the projected lineup for Thursday night:
Brock McGinn - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Micheal Ferland - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Andrei Svechnikov - Greg McKegg - Justin Williams
Warren Foegele - Victor Rask - Saku Maenalanen
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Calvin de Haan - Justin Faulk
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Dougie Hamilton
Scratches: Clark Bishop (lower body), Jordan Staal (upper body, IR)
At 33-8-2, the Tampa Bay Lightning are practically lapping the field around the NHL as they continue to overpower opponents on a nightly basis. Nikita Kucherov continues to tally points at a blistering pace (71 points in 43 games), and the Lightning attack continues to dominate the league in scoring, leading the second-place Flames by an astonishing 18 goals.
Coach Jon Cooper will deploy three All-Stars with Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Andrei Vasilevskiy slated for the game in San Jose, although you could arguably say that more could have been warranted. The lineup for Thursday is expected as follows:
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Adam Erne - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde
Danick Martel - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Anton Stralman