The Carolina Hurricanes will start an all-important six-game road trip Monday night in Tampa, facing the Lightning in what will be the first of four straight games for the Canes against their two competitors for the Central Division crown, the Lightning and the Florida Panthers.
The two-game stop in Tampa will start Monday and finish Tuesday, with the Canes two points ahead of the Lightning with one game in hand. Carolina will stay in Florida for the next two against the Panthers, who the Canes are one point clear of with two games in hand.
These four games will go a long way in determining the finishing order of the three teams, with all of them still very much in contention to grab the top spot in the division. Monday night, it will be Petr Mrazek in net for the Canes, who will look to build on the momentum from back-to-back dominant efforts over the Nashville Predators.
Carolina, as it has been since March 4, will be without Teuvo Teravainen Monday, though his return could be coming soon. Here’s what Rod Brind’Amour said about whether or not the talented winger would return on this road trip:
“Not sure. I hope so,” Brind’Amour said. “Just waiting on him to say ‘book me in,’ and then he’ll go in. Positive side is that he’s at least practicing with us so he’s part of the group now. Hopefully he’ll get the bug and feel good and he’ll get in there.”
With Mrazek, who shut out the Lightning in his lone game against Tampa this year, between the pipes, here’s how the Canes will hit the ice Monday in Amalie Arena.
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Cedric Paquette - Steven Lorentz - Morgan Geekie
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Jani Hakanpaa
Injuries and Scratches: James Reimer (healthy), Brock McGinn (upper body), Teuvo Teravainen (concussion symptoms, IR)
Taxi Squad: Jake Bean, Max McCormick, Joakim Ryan, Drew Shore
The Lightning enters Monday’s game coming off a 5-3 home loss to the Panthers over the weekend, which came after an ugly 7-2 loss to Nashville and an overtime win over Florida in game one of that two-game set.
Two points behind the Canes with one more game played, this two-game set against Carolina at home will be massive for Tampa Bay as it looks to try to win the Central Division to help set up another run at the cup. So far this season the Lightning holds a slight edge over Carolina, with Tampa at 3-2-1 against the Canes this season.
While star forward Nikita Kucherov, who has missed the whole season, is nearing his return and practicing, the Canes won’t have to worry about him in this one as he makes his way back. Carolina will also avoid Tampa captain Steven Stamkos, who is temporarily sidelined with a lower-body injury.
With Andrei Vasilevskiy expected to start for the Lightning, here is how Tampa Bay will lineup:
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Alex Barre-Boulet
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - David Savard
Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn
Injuries and Scratches: Nikita Kucherov (hip, IR), Jan Rutta (lower body), Steven Stamkos (lower body)
Taxi Squad: Cal Foote, Fredrik Claesson, Gemel Smith, Christopher Gibson, Daniel Walcott