Now that the Carolina Hurricanes have turned things around after a rough first week, their next challenge is to end their recent struggles at Tampa.
The Hurricanes look to avoid losing their fifth straight game at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday when they continue their seven-game road swing and play the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Carolina (2-3-1) was outscored 18-7 in its first four games - all losses - before regrouping with nine goals en route to consecutive wins. The Hurricanes defeated Pittsburgh 5-1 on Saturday, but the win was marred by an ugly injury to forward Trevor Letowski.
Letowski was leveled on a blindside hit by the Penguins' Colby Armstrong moments after making a pass and lay motionless on the ice for several minutes. The eight-year veteran was carried off on a stretcher with a concussion as his neck was placed in a brace, leaving behind a pool of blood from a forehead gash.
"Any time anything happens like that, it's a terrible incident and you don't wish it on any player in any sport," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
Scott Walker had two goals against Pittsburgh, while Eric Staal scored a goal for the second straight game for Carolina, which is 2-2 on its road stretch that also includes games at Buffalo and the New York Islanders.
Despite going 21-14-6 on the road en route to their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history, the Hurricanes have struggled at Tampa. They were 0-2-2 there last season and have just three wins in their last 14 games at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Goaltender Cam Ward made 25 saves in Saturday's win, improving his record to 2-2-1 while lowering his goals-against average to 2.95. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 GAA in two career games against the Lightning.
Carolina has converted just 10.5 percent (4-for-38) of its power-play chances thus far but did score once in five opportunities Saturday with the man advantage.
Tampa Bay's power-play unit finally got in sync in Saturday's 4-1 victory over Florida. The Lightning, who entered the game 1-for-26 with the man advantage, converted 2 of 6 opportunities on goals by Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Tampa Bay had scored just six goals in the first four games of the season, and Saturday's win snapped a three-game losing streak.
"To get out of our offensive woes, it's very important right now to keep it simple and not get too fancy," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.
St. Louis' goal was his first point of the season, but he had five goals and five assists against the Hurricanes last season.
Brad Richards led Tampa Bay with 91 points last season, but is off to a slow start with just two assists in the first five games. The Lightning center had four goals and nine assists in eight games against Carolina a year ago.
Marc Denis stopped 23 shots in Saturday's win and has allowed just two goals in his last two starts. Denis, who is 2-2 with a 1.74 GAA this season, is 2-2 with a 2.58 GAA in five lifetime starts against the Hurricanes.
|Apr 03 '07||CAR 2 at TBL 3||D. Boyle|
|Mar 30 '07||TBL 4 at CAR 2||F. Kuba|
|Feb 01 '07||TBL 4 at CAR 0||R. Craig|
|Jan 20 '07||TBL 6 at CAR 5 - SO||V. Prospal|
|Dec 16 '06||CAR 3 at TBL 2||R. Whitney|
|Oct 28 '06||TBL 4 at CAR 6||S. Walker|
|Oct 26 '06||CAR 1 at TBL 5||M. St. Louis|
|Oct 16 '06||CAR 5 at TBL 1||J. Williams|