Martin St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning look for a fourth straight victory Saturday when they complete a home-and-home series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay (5-4-0) and Carolina (4-5-2) have split two meetings this year. This is the Lightning's first trip to Carolina after winning 5-1 at home on Thursday.
St. Louis broke his own record for the fastest three goals in team history by completing a hat trick in a 6:17 span of the second period. He set the previous record against the Hurricanes, scoring three times in a 9:43 stretch of the first period in a 5-4 victory Jan. 15, 2004.
"I got a lot of chances, and I was able to capitalize on some of them," St. Louis said. "That's the difference tonight from many nights so far this year. It's nice to get rewarded for those chances you get and that you create."
The right wing scored only once in his first seven games before scoring four times in his last two for the Lightning.
"Sometimes the net looks big, sometimes the net looks small," he said. "Sometimes it just takes one to go in to make it look bigger."
Carolina has won only five times in the last 21 meetings overall, but has won the last three matchups in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes have played eight of their last nine games on the road, including two trips to Tampa Bay. Although the difficult stretch continues with three of their next five games on the road, the defending champions are happy to be home.
"I think we spent a lot of time on the road this first half of the season already," Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican said. "We've been through 10, 11 games mostly on the road and a lot of traveling. We've going to have to get home and get our rest and get ready for Saturday night."
Lightning goaltender Marc Denis made 23 saves for the win in his first start against the Hurricanes since he was pulled after two periods after giving up four goals on 19 shots in a 5-1 loss on Oct. 16. He missed a chance for his first shutout of the season when Eric Staal scored a short-handed goal with 5:15 to play.
"I'm just happy with the way we're playing as a whole," Denis said. "I didn't have to steal the show and have to make very many plays."
Hedican felt the Hurricanes weren't aggressive enough against the Tampa Bay netminder, who has given up only one goal in four of his last six starts.
"I think come Saturday," Hedican said, "we've got to get a lot more shots at him."