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Lightning (30-28-6, 66 Points) at Hurricanes (24-27-13, 61 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-4-0); Carolina (4-2-4)
Martin St. Louis leads all active players with 75 career points against Carolina (35g, 40a). St. Louis’ assist on Friday was his 60th point of the season, which is a landmark he has now reached in nine straight seasons.
Teddy Purcell is on a career-high, eight-game point streak (5g, 12a) which is one game shy of the longest point streak by a Lightning player this season.
Ryan Malone’s overtime goal on Friday night was his third career overtime-winner with the Bolts.
Steven Stamkos’ goal on Friday tied his total from last season (45), and also tied the franchise record for most home goals (28) in a season.
Stamkos’ 141 goals since the start of the 2009-10 season are at least 33 more than any other NHL player during that span. Alexander Ovechkin (108) and Corey Perry (108) have the second most goals during that stretch.
Stamkos has 16 points (8g, 8a) over his last eight games.
Mathieu Garon is 11-3-2 over his last 16 starts.
Friday’s win was the Lightning’s seventh this season when they trailed after two periods, which is tied with Boston for the most such wins in the league.
Tampa Bay improved to 20-3-6 (.690) in one-goal games on Friday night, which is the best record in the NHL in one-goal games.
The Bolts are 3-4-0 in the second half of back-to-back games this season.
Season Series: Saturday marks the fifth of sixth meetings between the Southeast Division opponents, who wrap up the season series next week at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. To date, the clubs have each won two of the first four matchups, including one in the other’s arena.
The Big Story: Carolina has lost three of its past four, leaving any hope of making the playoffs seem slim. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has won three straight and continues to push as its late-season surge has them just four points behind division-rival Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It hasn’t been easy for the Lightning, whose past seven victories have each come by just a single goal.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in the second half of a back-to-back set that kicked off Friday night with a 4-3 statement win in overtime against the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. The Lightning, which return to home ice on Tuesday, continue to overcome their 2-3-2 start to the month of February which put the team’s playoff chances in doubt. Led largely in part by a pair of torrid scoring surges from Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell, the Bolts finished the month on a 5-2-0 tear that not only has them back in the postseason picture, but also gave it momentum heading into March, as they proved Friday night. Tom Pyatt had a goal, and Purcell and Stamkos each scored in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit and mount a furious rally that culminated with Ryan Malone’s game-winning goal 1:58 into the extra session. The win was Tampa Bay’s 20th on the season by just a single goal, good for most in the NHL.
HURRICANES – Carolina hosts the Bolts in the finale of a six-game home stand that saw the club go a respectable 2-1-2. Kirk Muller, who took over during a bad start to the season that resulted in Paul Maurice losing his job, has the Hurricanes headed in the right direction, as the team lost just once in regulation during the month of February. It suffered a setback, though, in its most recent game against the Rangers, which kept Carolina at 61 points, 13th in the Eastern Conference, and just one point out of last in the standings. After a scoreless first, the Hurricanes went up 1-0 on a goal by Jeff Skinner, but Carolina followed it up by allowing three unanswered Rangers goals, then failing to convert a four-minute power play in the final period. Jay Harrison also had a goal late in the game to bring the Hurricanes to within one, but it would be as close as Carolina would get.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos upped his league-best goal total to 45 on Friday and now has 16 points in his past eight games, while Teddy Purcell is riding a career-high eight-game point streak and has recorded four three-point performances in his past six games. Carolina’s Eric Staal comes in with 18 points on his current 10-game point streak and Jeff Skinner has four points in his past three games for the Hurricanes.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, out for the season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell (knee, out for the season, placed on Injured Reserve), Vincent Lecavalier (non-displaced hand fracture, out indefinitely), Victor Hedman (upper body, day-to-day) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body, day-to-day). HURRICANES – Patrick Dwyer (lower body), Joni Pitkanen (concussion/knee), Tuomo Ruutu (upper body) and Chad LaRose (upper body).
Notable Quotable: “We still got a long road. We know we're in a hole here, so we take it one game at a time. We don't have time to take a five-minute lull. We have to be ready from the drop of the puck.” – Ryan Malone, as told to The Tampa Bay Times following Friday’s win, which improved the Lightning to 13-5-2 in their past 20 games
Connections: The Hurricanes' Jussi Jokinen had eight goals and 22 assists in 66 games with Tampa Bay during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. New Bolts defenseman Mike Commodore also won a Stanley Cup with Carolina during the 2005-06 season.
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