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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Preview and Game Discussion

A hastily-assembled game gives the Lightning their first game action since Monday - and levels up the Canes’ back-to-back.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Today was supposed to look different.

The Carolina Hurricanes were going to celebrate their rebirth and recent success with a long-awaited outdoor game at Carter-Finley Stadium against the Washington Capitals an unnamed opponent. 57,000 fans would have been going crazy, in a scene unmatched in Raleigh since the 2011 All-Star Game. The eyes of the league would have been on central North Carolina. It would have been a memorable day for all involved.

Instead, the only outdoor game taking place in the NHL today is at Lake Tahoe and definitively does not involve the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Carolina’s game today will be in front of no fans, and was hastily rebooked 31 hours before puck drop thanks to a historic winter storm that did not directly impact either of the teams involved.

Life in the time of COVID is weird, y’all.

Vital Statistics

Category Hurricanes Blue Jackets
Category Hurricanes Blue Jackets
Record 21-7-3 13-13-7
Goals/Game 3.23 2.54
Goals Against/Game 2.48 3.12
Shots/Game 31.52 28.70
Face Off Win % 54.4% 46.2%
Power Play % (Rank) 30.6% (1st) 14.8% (26th)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 82.9% (9th) 74.0% (26th)
ES Corsi For % 53.04% 46.16%
ES PDO 100.96 99.42
PIM/Game 07:21 06:43

Goaltender #1

Category James Reimer Joonas Korpisalo
Category James Reimer Joonas Korpisalo
Record 12-4-1 8-10-5
Save % 0.909 .900
GAA 2.68 2.98

Goaltender #2

Category Alex Nedeljkovic Elvis Merzlikins
Category Alex Nedeljkovic Elvis Merzlikins
Record 7-2-2 5-3-2
Save % .930 .912
GAA 1.96 2.91

Game Notes

  • So why was this game rebooked in the first place? The Lightning were scheduled to be in Dallas tonight for the second game of a two-game series that was postponed in its entirety due to the winter storm in Texas. That would have left the Lightning without a game in a full week by the time their scheduled game against the Hurricanes on Monday came around, and an idle week in this season is something everyone wants to avoid.
  • As a result, the league swapped the Lightning into tonight’s slot, and sent the Blackhawks packing. The end result is that the Hurricanes and Lightning will play four games in a row - two in Raleigh, and two in Tampa - and will have played more than half of their season series by next Thursday.
  • When last these two teams met on January 29, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Petr Mrazek battled in a great goaltending duel that was scoreless headed to overtime. Martin Necas finally beat Vasilevskiy a minute into the extra session, handing the Hurricanes the win.
  • Today is Cedric Paquette’s first game against the team that drafted him and with which he won the Stanley Cup last season. Paquette was dealt to Ottawa to help the Lightning relieve their cap crunch during the offseason, and then was shipped to Carolina exactly a week ago.
  • Nino Niederreiter tallied the 300th point of his NHL career last night with an assist on Vincent Trocheck’s second-period goal (and then hit 301 with his second goal of the night in the third period). He could be joined in the 300-point club tonight by Trocheck himself, who is at 299, and Teuvo Teravainen, who is sitting at 298.
  • The Lightning last played on Monday, a 6-4 loss to the Panthers that was the final game of three in a row against Florida, two of which the Lightning lost. Prior to that, though, the Lightning were rolling, having won six in a row against the Red Wings and Predators dating back to their overtime loss in Raleigh on January 29.

Projected Lineups

Neither team practiced this morning, and Rod Brind’Amour hinted that they may have run the goalie rotation differently had they known that today’s game would be against the Lightning and not the Blackhawks. But what’s done is done, and Alex Nedeljkovic will get the start tonight for the Hurricanes. Brind’Amour did not say whether there would be any other lineup changes, but unless someone came out of last night’s game injured it seems unlikely, leaving the lineup looking like this:

Brock McGinn - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Jordan Martinook - Cedric Paquette - Jesper Fast

Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei - Jake Bean

Alex Nedeljkovic
James Reimer

Injuries and Scatches: Haydn Fleury (healthy), Petr Mrazek (right thumb), Max McCormick (IR upper body)

Taxi Squad: Antoine Bibeau, Steven Lorentz, Joakim Ryan

The Lightning have had nothing to do other than sit around and wait since last Monday thanks to the Texas winter storm. They never left Tampa, practicing a few times in the past week, and because of the last-minute rescheduling of today’s game they flew to Raleigh this morning. That means no morning skate for them either, and our best guess as to what they’ll look like tonight is based on practice reports from the past six days:

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Gemel Smith - Alexander Volkov

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Curtis McElhinney

Injuries and Scratches: Anthony Cirelli (upper body), Mitchell Stephens (LTIR lower body), Nikita Kucherov (LTIR hip)

Taxi Squad: Alex Barre-Boulet, Cal Foote, Ross Colton, Andreas Bergman, Christopher Gibson

Tonight’s Officials
Referees: François St. Laurent #8, Jake Brenk #26
Linesmen: Libor Suchanek #60, Brandon Gawryletz #64

Community guidelines reminder: Here’s a link to our community guidelines for commenting on articles and discussions. We love how active everyone has been this season and hope that continues. However, a quick reminder that per our guidelines, the conversation needs to stay on the game of hockey. Off-topic comments about politics or other subjects, such as COVID discussion not strictly pertaining to its relation to the Hurricanes or game of hockey, will be removed.

Thank you all for your understanding, and happy watching! Looking forward to the game discussion tonight.