Preview: Tampa Bay at Carolina
When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, February 21, 2016
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
Captain Steven Stamkos could be starting to warm up at the right time as his Tampa Bay Lightning go after their third straight victory when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. Stamkos has recorded a goal in each of his last two games, including the 300th of his career in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh.
“It’s pretty special,” Stamkos told reporters after becoming the third Lightning player to reach the milestone, joining Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. “It means you’ve been around for a while, and I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players.” Tampa Bay sits in third place in the Atlantic Division after scoring nine times the last two games while Carolina is two points out of a playoff spot after going 4-1-2 over its last seven contests. Jordan Staal remained hot, scoring for the third straight game in the Hurricanes’ 5-2 victory over San Jose on Friday, and Jeff Skinner added two goals. “Every day you come to the rink, it’s two big points on the line,” Skinner told reporters. “I think we’ve been able to battle pretty hard to get back in this situation and put ourselves in a spot where we’re in the hunt.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), FSN Carolinas
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (32-22-4): Stamkos raised his season total to 24 goals, tying Nikita Kucherov for the team lead, and has prospered playing on a line with Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan in the last two contests. That has allowed coach Jon Cooper to put the Triplets line back together, with Kucherov rejoining Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Cooper has not decided who will be in net on Sunday as Ben Bishop had to work hard to turn aside 37 shots against Pittsburgh while backup Andrei Vasilevskiy is 7-1-0 in his last eight decisions.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (27-22-10): While captain Eric Staal snapped his seven-game point drought last time out, his brother Jordan has seized the scoring lead on the team with a strong run. The 27-year-old has recorded at least one point in four straight games and 10 of his last 12 to reach 37 on the season – two more than Victor Rask, who has notched four in as many contests. Defenseman Justin Faulk (leg) is expected to miss his sixth straight game, but goaltender Cam Ward returned Friday after sitting out two contests to improve to 6-0-4 in his last 10.
1. The Lightning have won six of the last seven meetings, including a 4-3 road triumph on Nov. 1.
2. Carolina is 5-for-11 on the power play over its last four contests, but still ranks in the bottom-third of the league at 17.7 percent.
3. Tampa Bay D Matt Carle registered a goal and an assist Saturday after going 41 games without a point.
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Hurricanes 3