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Lightning challenge Hurricanes in Southeast affair

by Adam Kimelman
HURRICANES (30-34-8) at LIGHTNING (28-32-12)
Last 10: Carolina 5-4-1; Philadelphia 2-7-1
Season series:
This is the fourth of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals this season. The teams have split their first four games, with the Lightning winning their most recent encounter, Jan. 18, when Steve Downie scored midway through the third period to break a 2-2 tie.
Big Story: A month ago, the Lightning looked like the playoff hopeful and the Hurricanes were booking tee times. Now, however, the roles are reversed. Both teams have 68 points, but the 'Canes have won five of their last 10, while the Lightning will tote a five-game losing streak into Tuesday's game.
Team Scope:

Hurricanes --
Carolina certainly had high hopes for defenseman Jamie McBain when selecting him in the second round (No. 63) of the 2006 Entry Draft. But there couldn't have been the expectation that he would fit so seamlessly in an NHL lineup in just his second pro season.
In four games since getting called up March 16, the 22-year-old has 5 points, and his first NHL goal beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins -- and he scored it with 0.9 seconds left in the game.
"This game is so much faster than the American League that normally for defensemen the first thing they have to adjust to is the pace," coach Paul Maurice told the Raleigh News and Observer. "Beside the size and the speed, it's the pace they do things at. So you often see them not confident with the puck … but he hasn't had an issue with that."
Lightning --
After rising as high as sixth in the Eastern Conference, their current five-game losing streak has the Lightning now sitting 14th -- eight points out of eighth place, and just four points ahead of 15th-place Toronto.
Coach Rick Tocchet tried shaking up his lines prior to Sunday's loss to the Panthers, sending out captain Vincent Lecavalier with linemates Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell, and Steven Stamkos with Alex Tanguay and Downie. Downie and Stamkos each had a goal, but St. Louis finished with zero shots and has gone seven straight without a goal, and Tanguay, who was a healthy scratch Saturday, had one shot and is without a goal in 15 games.
"We're just not getting any bounces," Stamkos told the St. Petersburg Times. "We just don't get any breaks, and when things go bad, they really go bad. … It seems that every game there's a certain time and point we panic and fall apart."
Who's Hot -- Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has 3 goals and 6 points in his last six games, and has at least a point in three straight. … Lecavalier has 4 goals in his last six games for the Lightning.
Injury Report --
The Hurricanes are missing a pair of defensemen -- Tim Gleason is out three weeks with a broken foot, and Alexandre Picard is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, and forward Ryan Malone is out for at least another week following arthroscopic knee surgery as well as continuing treatment for an upper-body injury.
Stat Pack -- The Lightning already are missing Malone, but even more so against the Hurricanes. He has 5 goals in four games against the Hurricanes, including a hat trick Oct. 10.
Puck Drop --
The Lightning may be struggling on the ice, but there seems to be a winning feeling off the ice, thanks to new owner Jeff Vinik. Since officially taking over as owner, he has made the team's 2004 Stanley Cup run a focal point of advertising through its "Bring it Back" campaign. A pamphlet given out to fans features St. Louis raising the Stanley Cup and another of the banner raising on opening night of the 2005-06 season.
Vinik also removed the $30 monthly fee on employees to park on team-owned land, and had the media/staff cafeteria completely refurbished. Employees responded by signing a thank-you card for Vinik.

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