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Gameday: Hurricanes at Lightning

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

TAMPA BAY - Happy(?) trade deadline day!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's game featuring the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

In a back-to-back situation with travel, albeit minimal, the Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate. Keep it locked on, as we deliver you the latest in trade deadline day and gameday updates.

Last updated: 7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco discusses tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Call-Ups Bring a Spark

Even though Andrej Nestrasil and Patrick Brown have worn the Hurricanes jersey, tonight is a chance for them to play with energy and pace so they can keep it on the rest of the year. Both players can fill a role left by the trade of Viktor Stalberg.

2. A Good Start

Last time in Tampa Bay, the Canes got off to a slow start, and last night against Florida was the same thing. Getting a good start means playing with pace and speed, and the lead would help too.

3. A Quick Transition

Don't let Tampa Bay get their forecheck going. As soon as the puck comes in, get it going the other way.

6:35 p.m.

Eddie Lack is back in between the pipes tonight after Cam Ward and the Hurricanes were in action last night in South Florida. Forwards Andrej Nestrasil and Patrick Brown enter the lineup with both Jeff Skinner and Brock McGinn out with upper-body injuries. Matt Tennyson is the healthy extra on defense. Here's what you can expect to see from the Hurricanes tonight.

Di Giuseppe-Staal-Brown



The puck drops in 30 minutes at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay.

3:25 p.m.

Forwards Andrej Nestrasil and Patrick Brown will join the Hurricanes in Tampa Bay for their match-up with the Lightning tonight, as Jeff Skinner and Brock McGinn are sidelined with upper-body injuries. Skinner returned to Raleigh yesterday for further evaluation, but GM Ron Francis announced today that Skinner's upper-body concern is not a concussion.

The Hurricanes didn't make any other moves before the trade deadline, so their roster is set. We'll pass along lineup notes for tonight as we have them, and we'll get a good look at the forward lines and defensive pairs in warm-ups around 6:30.

6:00 a.m.

Strap in: March is going to be one wild ride.

The Carolina Hurricanes open their busiest month of the season on the first day of the month in Tampa Bay. It's the first of 17 games the team will play over the next 30 days.

The Hurricanes will play at least every other day in March, and in addition to this back-to-back set in Florida, the Canes have three additional back-to-backs on the docket in the month; among those is a home-and-home set with the Islanders and games on consecutive nights in Raleigh against the Detroit Red Wings, one being a make-up for the postponed game in December.

"There's a certain rhythm that you're going to get in to, whether you want to or not. That's just the reality of it," head coach Bill Peters mused before Sunday's game against Calgary. "Realistically, I think everyone in the league would tell you they'd want a little bit more time off in between games with the amount of travel and everything else, just for the caliber of the play and health of the players."

As it relates to the health of the players, the Hurricanes would certainly not mind extra time in between last night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers and tonight's face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After skating with the team on Monday morning in South Florida, Jeff Skinner made his way back to Raleigh to have an upper-body injury further evaluated. Additionally, Brock McGinn left Tuesday's game early in the second period with an upper-body injury; there is no word whether that relates to the upper-body concern that kept him out of Sunday's game, but it is worth noting that he received an unpenalized elbow to the face from Michael Matheson on the game's opening shift.

"We'll know more in the morning," Peters said after the game. "We'll see. Nothing to pass on right now."

The Hurricanes were already in a tough personnel situation after Viktor Stalberg was traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft on Tuesday afternoon. McGinn was questionable and ultimately dressed, but Skinner's absence forced the Hurricanes to improvise and slot defenseman Matt Tennyson in as a fourth-line winger.

"It was different. We thought we'd have four lines with Tenny as a winger, and then all of a sudden you lose Ginner after 20," Peters said. "It's not a perfect scenario. I thought Tenny did a good job giving us some shifts on the back-end, too. The guys did a good job hanging in there. Rolling three lines, you can do it, but it was starting to show up at the end a little bit, I thought."

Through the roster juggling and a sleepy first 20 minutes, the Hurricanes rallied for a strong final 40 to force overtime against the Panthers. Florida then outscored the Canes 2-0 in the shootout to take the extra point in a 3-2 win.

"It was a good point after the way we started through 20," Peters said. "It didn't look very promising there, so I give them all the credit in the world for digging deep and finding a way to gut out a point."

The Tampa Bay Lightning come into March winners in three of their last four games and four of their last five home games. In the logjam that is the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, the Bolts sit five points back of the second wild card spot currently occupied by Toronto.

CANESPR NOTES: With the primary assist on Sebastian Aho's game-tying goal on Tuesday, Victor Rask now has points (1g, 2a) in three straight games. … This marks the Hurricanes' 12th of 16 back-to-back sets this season. The team is 6-3-3 in the front halves and 6-4-1 in the back halves thus far.




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