Series (Game 5 of 6)

Tampa Bay leads 4-2

Game 1: Monday, December 20th
Game 2: Saturday, January 15th
Game 3: Saturday, February 12th
Game 4: Friday, March 25th
Game 5: Saturday, March 26th
Game 6: Saturday, April 9th

Lightning 4

(40-24-11, 91 pts)

Hurricanes 2

(35-30-10, 80 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 26, 2011

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
TB 2 1 14
CAR 2 0 02

M. St. Louis (Lightning - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

V. Lecavalier (Lightning - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

C. Stillman (Hurricanes - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Lightning-Hurricanes Preview


While Tampa Bay appears to be in good shape to make the playoffs for the first time in four years, Carolina is just trying to keep its postseason hopes alive.

Playing more like a playoff contender than the struggling Lightning, the Hurricanes look for a fourth straight victory by beating their Southeast Division foe for the second time in as many nights when they conclude a home-and-home set Saturday night in Raleigh.

Tampa Bay (39-24-11) is fifth in the Eastern Conference, but a 2-6-4 record in March is a big reason why it likely won't earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Lighting look to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss after falling 4-3 to Carolina on Friday.

The Hurricanes (35-29-10) have won four of five, and are ninth in the East, three points behind Buffalo for the final playoff spot with eight games remaining.

Erik Cole scored twice, Eric Staal had a goal and an assist and Jeff Skinner also scored as Carolina improved to 2-1-1 versus Tampa Bay this season.

"We were able to buckle down and get two big points," said Cole, who has three goals in the last three games.

The Hurricanes, who have won 14 of the last 20 against the Lightning, have totaled 11 goals during their three-game winning streak.

"Regardless our situation in the standings, that would've been a tough loss, given how our hockey club played for, oh, I don't know, 56 minutes," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said of his team's latest victory. "I was real pleased with the effort we got out of everyone."

Skinner has two goals and two assists during the last three games. The rookie center also has three goals and two assists against the Lightning this season.

Simon Gagne scored twice, Vincent Lecavalier had a goal with an assist and Martin St. Louis added two assists for the Lightning, who recorded 11 of their 21 shots during a two-goal third period. Tampa Bay had scored two goals in each of its previous three contests following a 6-2 win at Toronto on March 14.

"When you don't shoot, you don't create momentum, and you don't create chaos in the offensive zone," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We can't sustain any pressure."

Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 43 goals, but has been held without a point in four straight games to match his longest drought of the season. He had at least one point in each of his five previous games versus the Hurricanes.

Gagne has four goals in his last five games overall, and four of his 14 this season versus Carolina.

Tampa Bay, which has lost two straight and five of six on the road, has dropped nine of 10 at Carolina.

Cam Ward, who stopped 18 shots Friday, has a 2.08 goals-against average while winning eight of his last nine at home against the Lightning.

Dwayne Roloson countered with 35 saves, but lost his fourth straight start for Tampa Bay. He could be back in net trying to improve a 1-4-0 record and 3.03 GAA at Carolina.

The teams conclude their season series April 9 in Raleigh.