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Hurricanes hope to extend Lightning's home woes

by Brian Hunter

HURRICANES (15-10-1) at LIGHTNING (11-15-1)


Last 10: Carolina 7-3-0; Tampa Bay 2-8-0

Season series: Third of five meetings between these Southeast Division rivals, and the first in Tampa Bay. The Hurricanes will be looking to pay back the Lightning, who have won a pair of road games at PNC Arena behind two goals from Tom Pyatt and a goal and two assists from Steven Stamkos. Mathieu Garon has been in net for both wins, stopping 67 of 70 shots.

Big story: Carolina has won three of five since losing goaltender Cam Ward to a knee injury that could cost him the rest of the season. The Hurricanes have scored 18 goals during that span, but the focus Saturday will need to be on keeping the puck out of their own net against a Lightning team that, despite its struggles, still ranks second in the NHL in offense at 3.26 goals per game.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Four periods into its home-and-home set with Washington, and Carolina appeared set to bury its division rival in the standings. The Hurricanes had blanked the Capitals in D.C. on Tuesday, and took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes Thursday on the strength of goals by former Cap Alexander Semin and Patrick Dwyer. The tables turned, though, as the Canes couldn't build on the lead and yielded three consecutive goals, including Mike Ribeiro's game-winner with 2:16 left, for a 3-2 defeat. Coupled with a win Thursday by Winnipeg, the Canes' lead in the Southeast is down to a point over the Jets.

"We didn't get the job done," captain Eric Staal told the Raleigh News & Observer. "We had a 2-0 lead against a team that's behind us and didn't finish it off. … Two bad line changes cost us two goals, and a power-play goal for them and that was it. We've got to learn from this. Our third period's got to be a little bit better. Give them credit. They had to come out to compete and they did and we didn't."

Lightning: The tough times continued for Tampa Bay at home Thursday, only for a rare time it was the offense letting the Lightning down in a 2-0 loss to the Islanders. In addition to getting blanked for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the Senators on Feb. 14, 2012, the Lightning made it fairly easy for Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, testing him with just 18 shots. At the other end, the often-maligned Anders Lindback turned in a solid performance with 27 saves, but the Bolts dropped a fourth straight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"We had some good chances and some good looks, but we need more shots," forward Ryan Malone told the team's official website. "We needed to create more havoc in front of the goaltender, but we just didn't get the job done."

Who's hot: Semin has five goals and 10 assists in his past 10 games for the Hurricanes. Dwyer has goals in consecutive games. … Despite winning only two of his past five starts, Lindback hasn't given up more than two goals in any of those games for the Lightning.

Injury report: Ward (MCL sprain) won't be back until near the end of the regular season at the earliest, but Tuomo Ruutu is making a faster-than-expected recovery from hip surgery and could return soon. Forward Chad LaRose is out indefinitely with a concussion, and defenseman Joni Pitkanen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Pyatt is day-to-day for Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury. Forwards Vincent Lecavalier (lower body) and Benoit Pouliot (shoulder) are on injured reserve.

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