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Lightning strive for franchise-record ninth consecutive win

Tampa Bay also won eight straight en route to 2004 Stanley Cup

by Corey Long / Correspondent

HURRICANES (29-26-10) at LIGHTNING (38-22-4)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SUN, NHL.TV

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will go for a franchise-record ninth consecutive win when they play the Carolina Hurricanes at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Tampa Bay returns home for the first time since Feb. 23 and is in first place in the Atlantic Division after a perfect road trip with wins against the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

The Lightning will be without defenseman Andrej Sustr (upper body). Defenseman Jason Garrison returned from a lower-body injury Feb. 29 against the Maple Leafs.

"I feel pretty good now, the first game is always a little bit of an adjustment," Garrison said. "It takes a little bit of time to get up to speed and get that comfort level. No player likes to sit out and watch. I'm glad it wasn't an injury that kept me out for a long time."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said health and good goaltending are two of the reasons the team has had so much success in the past month.

"The goaltending and attention to detail in our defensive play have been big," Cooper said. "When we beat Winnipeg we gave up four [goals] in the third but look at how we've played since then. We've been banged up on the defense but it hasn't been multiple guys at a time so that's been a good thing." 

Carolina is looking to make one last push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Hurricanes are six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card out of the Eastern Conference, but the Penguins have two games in hand.

The Hurricanes had two practices and a day off since a 3-1 win against the Devils on Tuesday, and coach Bill Peters said it was a good opportunity for the new faces on the team to get acclimated with the system.

"It was good to get two real practices in that we could go hard at and I think that's going to pay off down the stretch," Peters said. "We're facing a hot team, they are playing well defensively and that's what has led to their success."

Peters said he will find out a lot about the team he has Saturday and in the final 17 games of the season.

"Our standard of play and what we believe in isn't going deviate," Peters said. "Some of these guys that came up from the American Hockey League, do they have enough pace and tempo to play in the NHL on a full-time basis? Are they really going to be able to play in the National Hockey League or are we kidding ourselves? We're going to find that out."

Tampa Bay is 2-0 against Carolina this season, including a 4-2 win at the PNC Arena on Feb. 21.
Eddie Lack makes his second straight start for the Hurricanes. Ben Bishop makes his 49th start of the season for the Lightning.

Here are the projected lineups:


Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Brad Malone

Brock McGinn - Derek Ryan - Chris Terry

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Michal Jordan - Ryan Murphy

Eddie Lack

Cam Ward

Injured: Andrej Nestrasil (fractured vertebra), Justin Faulk (leg), Jay McClement (undisclosed)

Scratched: None


Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Cedric Paquette - Valtteri Filppula - J.T. Brown

Brian Boyle - Vladislav Namestnikov - Erik Condra

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matthew Carle - Jason Garrison

Nikita Nesterov - Braydon Coburn

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Andrej Sustr (upper body)

Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault

Status report: Both teams participated in full practices Saturday morning. ...Cooper said Sustr should be available at some point in the upcoming week. ... McClement skated with Carolina, but will not play Saturday. Peters said McClement is getting close to returning to the lineup.

Who's hot: Stamkos has a goal in seven of his past eight games. ... Ryan scored in his NHL debut against New Jersey on Tuesday.

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