The Carolina Hurricanes begin the back half of their 82-game regular-season schedule when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday evening.
Sunday's Eastern Conference match-up marks the fourth game in a season-long, seven-game homestand for the Canes (2-1-0).
41 of 82
The Hurricanes reached the midway point of the 2019-20 regular season after their 4-3 loss to Washington on Friday night. Through 41 games, the Canes are 24-15-2 with 50 points, good for the second-most wins and points through half of an 82-game regular-season in franchise history.
"We need to put ourselves into a good spot heading into (All-Star) break," Ryan Dzingel said on Friday. "We've put ourselves in a decent spot so far, and we've got to keep going."
The Canes currently occupy the first wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are three points back of third place in the uber competitive Metropolitan Division.
"It's been pretty good," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said of the first half of the season. "I like this group how they come to work. They don't quit. That's pretty positive. We've had some tough losses this year, but the guys seem to always dig in. That's all you can ask for as a coach."
Dougie Hamilton, named to his first ever NHL All-Star Weekend, has posted 37 points (13g, 24a) through 41 games this season, just two points shy of matching his point total from 82 games a season ago. Hamilton ranks tied for second among NHL defensemen in goals (13), and no defenseman has scored more goals than Hamilton since the start of the 2018-19 season (31).
In 19 career games against Tampa Bay, Hamilton has recorded 15 points (3g, 12a). Two of those 12 assists came in the last meeting between the two teams on Nov. 30 in Tampa.
The Last Meeting
This game will conclude the three-game season series between the Lightning and Hurricanes, who last met in Tampa on Nov. 30. In that game, the Canes scored three goals in the first period and then held on in the third for a 3-2 win. James Reimer made 36 saves, while both Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin recorded a goal and an assist.
Video: Aho collects two points in Hurricanes' 3-2 victory
The Lightning bring a six-game winning streak to Raleigh, the last stop in a series of four straight on the road. On Saturday night, Tampa dealt the Senators a 5-3 loss in Ottawa. At 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, the Bolts have jumped into third place in the Atlantic Division. Nikita Kucherov leads the team in scoring with 43 points (14g, 29a) in 39 games.
"We played them pretty well. They've got that potent power play," Brind'Amour said. "We say it every night, but we don't want to get in the box. That will be the difference."
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