Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-1-4); Carolina (2-6-2)
Season Series: This is the third contest of six matches this season, with the two teams splitting the first two games during the second week of October. The Hurricanes won the first game at the RBC Center on Oct. 6 in a shootout, while the Lightning returned the favor on Oct. 10 at the St. Pete Times Forum with a 5-2 victory, led by a Ryan Malone hat trick. The two teams won’t face off again until 2010, with one more meeting scheduled at Carolina and the final two set in Tampa Bay.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay is 4-0-2 in its last six games and has received at least one point in each of its last five consecutive road games. In addition, the Lightning have totaled 11 points in their last seven contests.
Tampa Bay continues to earn points on the road, posting a 3-0-2 record in its last five games away from the St. Pete Times Forum heading into tonight’s penultimate matchup of their current four-game road trip.
Meanwhile, Carolina has picked up at least a point in each of its last four games and will attempt to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts have come from behind in three of their last four games. On Nov. 12 against Minnesota, the Lightning forced the game into overtime and picked up both points with a win. The Lightning also racked up points after sending the contest into the extra session against Los Angeles on Nov. 14 and against Anaheim on Thursday.
Ryan Malone has been the hero as of late, sending all three of the come-from-behind efforts into extra play by netting the game-tying goal in those contests. Goaltenders Antero Niittymaki and Mike Smith have factored into the Bolts’ recent success as well. Niittymaki’s GAA and Save% rank first in the league, while Smith has earned a 1-0-1 record on the current road trip, including a fantastic performance on Nov. 16 at Phoenix in which he stopped 30 of 31 shots and was named the game’s first star.
HURRICANES – Injuries have played a role in Carolina’s slow start this season and have forced the team to make moves stemming from salary cap issues. Tim Conboy, who cleared waivers last week, was sent to AHL Albany to allow Carolina to call up goaltender Justin Peters after backup Michael Leighton went down with a groin injury during Tuesday's game, leaving recently-signed Manny Legace as the team's only healthy goaltender. On Wednesday, Carolina placed starting goaltender Cam Ward (lacerated leg) on the long-term injured list to make room for another call-up from Albany.
- Steven Stamkos has recorded two goals and three assists, good for five total points, in his previous four games.
- Ryan Malone has tallied nine points in his last five games, including the game-tying goal in three out of the last four contests. He also has six goals and an assist in his last seven games against the Hurricanes.
- Carolina’s Brandon Sutter has tallied six points in his last four contests and Matt Cullen has recorded four in his last three.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day); HURRICANES – Michael Leighton (lower body, day-to-day), Scott Walker (upper body, day-to-day), Joni Pitkanen (lower body, day-to-day), Cam Ward (lacerated leg, expected to miss 3-4 weeks and placed in long-term injury list), Eric Staal (upper body, expected to miss 2-4 weeks and placed on Injured Reserve), and Michael Ryan (upper body, placed on long-term injury list).
Quotable: “It [Thursday’s game at Anaheim] was a great comeback. We’ll take our point, but we definitely have to be more disciplined.” – Steven Stamkos
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