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This is the fourth of six total meetings on the year between the Southeast Division rivals. The Lightning have won two of the first three, including a 5-2 victory in the most recent contest at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on New Year's Eve as well as the season-opener back on Oct. 7 in Raleigh. Carolina’s lone victory on the year against the Bolts came on Nov. 1 by a 4-2 score.
Two clubs struggling to climb their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture are in desperate need of victories. The Lightning, only three points better than Carolina at 13th in the East, look to snap a four-game losing streak, while the Hurricanes have lost four of their past five and are currently 15th in the conference with their four road victories coming in as the fewest in the East.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts wrap up a two-game home stand against the Hurricanes before departing for the nation’s capital to take on Washington in the second half of a back-to-back set on Friday night. Tampa Bay dropped a 5-4 contest in the shootout Tuesday night against Vancouver in the team’s first home game since returning from a three-game stretch through Canada. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier scored goals to help the Bolts climb back from a two-goal deficit, and Steve Downie and Ryan Malone had an additional pair of tallies 12:45 apart to tie the game at four and send the match into overtime. After an extra period of scoreless action, Vancouver’s Mason Raymond scored the lone goal in the shootout and Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider stopped all three Bolts shooters he faced to hand the Lightning a fourth straight loss and just the first at home since Dec. 12.
HURRICANES – Carolina travels to Tampa Bay for a brief one-game stint with the Lightning before returning home to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins on Saturday. The Hurricanes come in with just one win in their last five games after falling for a second straight time Tuesday against Philadelphia. Carolina took a 1-1 tie into the final period, but it didn’t last long, as Flyers rookie Sean Couturier notched what stood as the game-winning goal just three minutes into the third. Jerome Samson scored his first career NHL goal in his debut to erase a one-goal deficit for the Hurricanes, and Cam Ward stopped 35 shots, but in his 16th loss of the season.
Steven Stamkos scored in the team’s last game and now leads the NHL with 29 goals. He has lit the lamp 13 times in his past 12 games for the Bolts. Vincent Lecavalier also has scored a goal in three of his past four games. For Carolina, captain Eric Staal has three goals and 10 points over his past six games.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Ryan Shannon (lower body, out 2-4 weeks), Adam Hall (upper body, out eight weeks), Victor Hedman (concussion, out indefinitely) and JT Wyman (upper body, day-to-day).
HURRICANES – Joni Pitkanen (knee/concussion), Brian Boucher (groin), Chad LaRose (upper body) and Jeff Skinner (concussion).
“We have to stay positive. Like everything else this year, everything comes extremely hard and we have to fight for everything we hope to get. We’ve got to take the positive out of this one.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on is team’s mindset following Tuesday’s 5-4 loss in the shootout
The Hurricanes' Jussi Jokinen had eight goals and 22 assists in 66 games with Tampa Bay during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
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