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Lightning (8-7-1, 17 Points) at Hurricanes (8-6-1, 17 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
The two Southeast Division rivals will compete in the second of five total meetings on the season. The clubs last met back on January 22 in Carolina, where the Lightning picked up their first road victory of the season with a 4-1 win. The teams will square off again three more times on the year, including March 16 and April 21 in Tampa Bay with a contest scheduled in between on April 4 in Raleigh.
Tampa Bay and Carolina are tied with each other at the top of the Southeast Division standings, with the winner of Saturday night’s game set to take over sole possession of first place. The Lightning fell in their most recent contest on Thursday night to a tough Bruins team, but nonetheless have won two of their past three, with one of those wins coming on the road. Carolina, meanwhile, has lost each of its past two after winning three straight.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts open up a two-game road trip that is also a back-to-back set, with the team set to travel to Pittsburgh following Saturday night’s game to take on the Penguins on Sunday evening. The Lightning also will play six of their next seven games away from home. After winning for a second consecutive time on Tuesday following a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bolts couldn’t quite make it three in a row Thursday night, as they fell 4-2 to the Boston Bruins, despite a hard-fought effort and well-played contest. Tampa Bay erased an early two-goal deficit by receiving tallies from Steven Stamkos and Cory Conacher, which pulled the Lightning even at 2-2 in the second period. The Bruins, though, would go on to score twice more throughout the final 26 minutes of regulation to earn the win despite a 22-save performance by Bolts netminder Anders Lindback.
HURRICANES – Carolina will host its division rivals in the finale of a two-game homestand at PNC Arena Saturday, with the team going on the road for a pair of games following the contest against Tampa Bay. After three straight wins propelled the Hurricanes to the top of the division standings, the team has been unable to create some space between itself and those trailing behind, as Carolina has lost each of its past two matches, with one coming in the form of a shutout. On Monday, it ran into the red-hot Montreal Canadiens, losing 3-0, before falling a second time in its most recent contest on Thursday, in a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. A tied 1-1 game went into the third period, still up for grabs, and Carolina continued to fight even after falling behind in the final period twice. Jiri Tlusty scored twice and Jordan Staal added a goal, but with things knotted at three goals apiece, Blake Wheeler’s tally at 15:06 stood up as the game-winner, handing the Hurricanes their second straight defeat.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos has collected four goals and seven points in his past four games for the Lightning, while rookie forward Cory Conacher comes in riding a three-game point streak. Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty has seven goals and nine points over his past six games. Eric Staal also has points in 12 of his past 13 games and in all but three games this season for Carolina.
LIGHTNING – Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Ryan Malone (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). HURRICANES – Jeff Skinner (Concussion, Day-To-Day), Tim Brent (Lower Body, Day-To-Day), Tim Wallace (Undisclosed, Day-To-Day), Joni Pitkanen (Lower Body) and Tim Gleason (Lower Body).
Victor Hedman @Heds77 ranks tied for third in the @NHL among defensemen in goals with four.
Martin St. Louis has tallied a goal and 16 assists over his past 13 games and is tied for first in the @NHL in assists with 18.
Adam Hall has won 28 of his last 38 faceoffs over the past five games.
The #TBLightning own a record of 5-1-0 against Southeast Division opponents this season.
“This is an ongoing process for us to try to just be patient and let the game work itself out instead of trying to force the pace. If we can hang in there and let our game find the opportunities when they are there instead of trying to make them, we'll be way better off.” – Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer, on the key to winning games
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