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Lightning (45-25-11, 101 Points) at Hurricanes (40-30-11, 91 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-3-1); Carolina (8-1-1)
Season Series: The two Southeast clubs conclude the six-game season series, as well as their respective regular season campaigns, in the final meeting at the RBC Center tonight. The Lightning have taken three of five meetings so far on the year, earning victories on Dec. 20, Feb. 12 and Mar. 26. The Hurricanes look to even things up at three games apiece after claiming a pair of victories on Jan. 15 and Mar. 25.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has well secured its spot in the playoff picture, however it appears Carolina will have to battle the New York Rangers down to the wire if it wants to play in the postseason. The Hurricanes came up with a huge win last night to jump the Rangers, now in ninth, for the eighth and final playoff spot. With a game remaining for each club and one spot up for grabs, the Hurricanes face a must-win situation against the Lightning, who will attempt to tie the single-season franchise record of 46 wins.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up the regular season tonight at the RBC Center in the sixth and final meeting against its division rivals. The Lightning are playing in the back half of a back-to-back set after defeating the Florida Panthers last night at home 4-2. The win gave the Bolts 25 home victories in front of their fans, tying the single-season franchise record, while also breaking them past the 100-point plateau for just the second time in franchise history. Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, Ryan Malone scored his third goal since returning from injury and Pavel Kubina also had a goal. Following the game, head coach Guy Boucher expressed how proud he was of his players in accomplishing one of the team’s season-long goals of tying the franchise home win mark, but also set out one final challenge for his club before the conclusion of the regular season, which is to tie the single-season franchise mark of 46 wins set during the 2003-04 Stanley Cup championship season.
HURRICANES – Carolina will host the Lightning tonight to wrap up its regular campaign. The Hurricanes have fought and clawed the second half of the season to find themselves occupying the eighth and final playoff spot with just one game remaining. The Hurricanes have won eight of the last 10 and have earned at least a point in nine games during that span, including two in a 6-1 win over Atlanta Friday night. All six of the club’s goals came from a different player, while Cam Ward stopped 18 of 19 shots in the win. Carolina controls its own destiny now, as it owns all of the tiebreakers entering a Saturday that will resolve which team makes it and which doesn’t.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier has scored in two straight and has points in nine of his past 10 games, while Martin St. Louis comes in with an eight-game point streak during which he has totaled four goals and seven assists. Ryan Malone also has three goals in four games since returning from injury. Carolina’s Eric Staal has points in four of his past five games with two goals and five assists, while Jeff Skinner has five goals in his past six games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely), Victor Hedman (lower body, day-to-day) and Eric Brewer (lower body, day-to-day). HURRICANES – Jay Harrison (upper body, day-to-day).
Notable Quotable: “It's an achievement. You've been battling with the big boys. We've done pretty good. I want to do great.” – Guy Boucher, on making the playoffs and tying the franchise record for most home wins in a single season, while also expressing his desire for more as the playoffs begin
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