LAST 10: Carolina 4-5-1; Tampa Bay 4-4-2
Season Series: The Lightning have won two of the three previous meetings, scoring a 5-2 victory in the most recent contest at Tampa Bay Times Forum on New Year's Eve. Carolina scored a 4-2 victory on Nov. 1 and the Lightning took a 5-1 decision on Oct. 7 in Raleigh.
Big Story: Two teams struggling to claw their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt are in dire need of victories. The Hurricanes, who have lost four of their last five, are currently 15th in the conference with 35 points. Carolina's four road victories are the fewest in the East. The Lightning, meanwhile, have lost four straight to begin the month of January and are only three points better than Carolina as the 13th-best team in the East.
Hurricanes: Carolina dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday in Raleigh when Sean Couturier scored 3:23 into the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. Jerome Samson scored his first NHL goal in his debut 12:37 into the second to pull Carolina into a 1-1 tie. Samson was recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on an emergency basis after Chad LaRose was injured in practice. Cam Ward made 35 saves in the loss. The good news is that captain Eric Staal has certainly picked up his offensive production, notching 3 goals and 10 points over the last six games.
Lightning: Tampa dropped a 5-4 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday as Mason Raymond connected for the lone shootout goal off a spinning backhander past Dwayne Roloson. Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist and Martin St. Louis chipped in with 2 assists for the Lightning, who played without the services of defenseman Victor Hedman (concussion-like symptoms) for the sixth straight game. Stamkos, St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier combined for 15 of Tampa's 31 shots against Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (27 saves).
Who's Hot: Stamkos has scored 13 goals in his last 12 games and remains the NHL leader with 29 goals for the season.
Injury Report: The Hurricanes are missing defenseman Joni Pitkanen (knee/concussion), goalie Brian Boucher (groin), and forwards LaRose (upper body) and Jeff Skinner (concussion). … Tampa Bay is missing Mattias Ohlund (knee), Ryan Shannon (knee), Hedman (concussion), Adam Hall (upper body) and JT Wyman (upper body).
Stat Pack: Carolina ranks second in the NHL with seven shorthanded goals this season -- the same total the 'Canes had through 82 games in 2010-11. Brandon Sutter ranks tied for second in the NHL with three shorthanded goals.
Puck Drop: The move to re-sign Roloson to a one-year, $3 million deal over the summer hasn't exactly worked out according to plan for Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman. In each of his last nine starts, Roloson (6-9-2, 3.76 goals-against average, .880 save percentage) has allowed at least three goals. He's yielded four or more in six of those contests.