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TAMPA BAY - The Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning will square off in a home-and-home, back-to-back set that begins tonight in Tampa Bay.
Tonight's match-up marks the second of seven preseason games for the Canes, who opened in Buffalo on Monday night with a 3-2 overtime win against the Sabres.
The Canes' lineup shifts a bit younger tonight, especially on defense; only Klas Dahlbeck (43 games) logged time with the big club last season, and Trevor Carrick skated in two games with the Canes two seasons ago.
"It's a bit of a younger group as far as NHL experience, a little light on NHL experience," head coach Bill Peters said. "But, a good opportunity for them as a group of six."
A good opportunity, perhaps, for one or two to set themselves apart from the pack that is jockeying for a spot with the Hurricanes as the sixth or seventh defenseman.
"They've got to go out, play, be able to move the puck, defend properly at the NHL level and help our transition game," Peters said. "It will be a real good task."
Up front, the veteran line of Teuvo Teravainen, Victor Rask and Justin Williams, who will make his debut in his return to the Canes, anchors the offense.
"The biggest thing is we're adding 20 goals," Peters said of Williams. "That's what we need more than anything. Does he provide leadership and is he a good man? He's off the charts as a quality of person and leader, so that's an added bonus."
The line of Joakim Nordstrom, Marcus Kruger and Brock McGinn, one of three skaters seeing back-to-back action, could be a preview of a potential fourth line in the regular season.
"I see Nordy and Kruger being a pair to a certain degree, especially on the PK," Peters said. "There's a bunch of different guys who can go on that right side. Is that an audition for Brock? Would it be an audition for Josh Jooris or Phil Di Giuseppe? I guess that's fair to say."
The line of Warren Foegele, Janne Kuokkanen and Julien Gauthier could provide some offensive pop coming off a solid week in Traverse City, Mich., at the NHL Prospects Tournament. On the fourth line, Andrew Poturalski and Josh Jooris dress in back-to-back games alongside Clark Bishop.
"I liked them at times last night," Peters said of McGinn, Poturalski and Jooris. "Consistency is important. It's a back-to-back opportunity for them to make an impression."
Alex Nedeljkovic will get the start in net. He relieved Jeremy Smith after two periods in Buffalo on Monday and stopped all 14 shots he saw in 20-plus minutes of game action. Peters said Nedeljkovic will play at least 30 minutes, if not 40, tonight before Callum Booth makes his preseason debut for the game's balance.
"He made two big saves, and one he pushed across on the glove save in a tie game at the time. That's a huge save," Peters said of Nedeljkovic. "He was clean. He handled the puck a few times and made some good decisions with it."
It's a 7:30 p.m. puck drop from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay tonight. You can listen to the game via live streaming audio on WRALSportsFan.com, and we'll have your rinkside in-game updates on @CanesTracking.
Listen: WRALSportsFan.com, WRAL Sports Fan mobile app