The Carolina Hurricanes kick off a back-to-back in Florida Saturday night. The trip begins in Tampa as Staal and Stamkos hope to bring their respective teams 2 points in the playoff push. The Lightning are currently 31-29-7 with 69 points. Carolina has 65 points with a 25-27-15 record. Our boys are also looking for a little redemption after losing to the Bolts in overtime on March 3rd.
Canes’ captain, Eric Staal, is fresh off a franchise record 12 game point streak (7g, 13a). Teddy Purcell is looking to match the streak tonight for the Bolts. Steven Stamkos, however, leads the NHL in points (82) and goals (48).
The Canes and Bolts have flip-flopped victories since their first meeting in October (and if history holds true, it’s Carolina’s turn for a win) with Tampa claiming three of the 5 previous games. Each contest has generated no less than 6 goals combined. Cam Ward hasn’t been superb against the fellow Southeast Division team with a .884 save percentage and 3.57 goals against average. The goal tending for the Bolts has seen a change with Mathieu Garon likely out for the remainder of the season with a groin injury. Tampa Bay called up Dustin Tokarski to manage the crease with a struggling Dwayne Roloson.
Leading point scorers between these teams this season are Staal (7 pts) and Tlusty (5pts) for Carolina and Stamkos (8 pts) and St. Louis (7 pts) for Tampa.
On the injury front, Pitkanen and Ruutu remain out for the Canes while Marc-Andre Bergeron, Vinny Lecavalier, and Garon join Mattias Ohlund on the Bolts’ wounded list.
My only key to the game (aka, on my knees begging) is to avoid, at all cost, freaking overtime. Not only are the Canes completely cursed in extra innings, but Stamkos is tied for #1 in NHL overtime goals. Please Canes, deliver Tampa their third straight loss…and do it in 60 minutes. Please.