The last time these two teams saw each other at PNC Arena, handshakes were involved.
It still seems strange that the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning only see each other in the regular season three times a year, and tonight is the Bolts’ only visit to Raleigh in 2021-22. Of course, these are two of the top teams in the league, and another playoff series between the two is certainly within the realm of possibility.
The post-deadline Hurricanes really won’t look too different tonight, both because of their lack of activity at the deadline and the fact that their lone acquisition, Max Domi, won’t join the team for a practice before tomorrow. He’ll be scratched tonight, but Nino Niederreiter returns after a one-game suspension, so the Canes do get a net positive even with Domi not yet present and accounted for.
When these two teams played in Tampa in early November, Martin Necas scored the overtime game-winner. If he’d like to offer a repeat performance tonight, I’m sure no one would complain, and doubly so if he does so in regulation.
Here’s how the Hurricanes will look:
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin - Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Ian Cole - Ethan Bear
Injuries and Scratches: Jordan Martinook (lower body), Brendan Smith (healthy), Max Domi (stuck in traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike)
The past two years, hockey people couldn’t stop falling over themselves to praise the Lightning for acquiring Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. Then each went their separate ways, Coleman to the Flames and Goodrow to the Rangers, for contracts that were way too pricey for the Lightning to even consider offering.
Fast forward a few months, do a find and replace that subs in “Brandon Hagel” and “Nick Paul” for Coleman and Goodrow, and fire up the band yet again.
The Lightning don’t care about draft picks. Well, that’s not fair; they do, but not as much as trying to become the NHL’s first team to win three Stanley Cups in a row in 40 years. And considering they have a very similar roster to the one that won the past two, it’s a fool’s errand to bet against them, although the Hurricanes will be among the teams aiming to overthrow the dynasty.
Here’s how the Lightning will line up tonight:
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Anthony Cirelli
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul - Ross Colton - Brandon Hagel
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak
Injuries and Scratches: Cal Foote (healthy)
Referees: Marc Joannette #25, Dan O’Rourke #9
Linesmen: Ryan Gibbons #58, Libor Suchanek #60