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Hurricanes' Faulk 'closer,' possible vs. Lightning

Carolina continues push for Stanley Cup Playoffs berth

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com Correspondent

LIGHTNING (32-22-4) at HURRICANES (27-22-10)
  
TV:
7 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-CR, NHL.TV

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes will have a handful of game-time decisions when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena on Sunday. 

Defenseman Justin Faulk, who was injured in practice two weeks ago, took part in the Hurricanes' morning skate but is uncertain for the game.

"He's getting closer," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "He's day-to-day. He will warm up tonight and we'll see from there." 

Peters said three players were battling illnesses, but he did not believe any of the cases were too serious. 

"We will warm everybody up and we will go with the healthiest guys," he said. 

The Hurricanes continued their push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-2 against the San Jose Sharks on Friday. Carolina has not lost back-to-back games in regulation since Dec. 3. 

"It's a mentally tough group," Peters said. "The mind powers the body. If you tell yourself you're tired, you're going to play tired, you're going to look tired and you're going to act tired. We're not tired. We're in an exciting time of the year." 

Lightning players and coaches came to the arena Sunday morning, but only for a picture with their fathers, who are travelling with them. Only the healthy extras skated. 
Tampa Bay earned a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Steven Stamkos scored his 300th NHL goal, and Matt Carle had a goal and an assist after playing 41 games without a point. 

"[Carle] is one of those guys who plays a quiet game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "The next thing you know, he's got 15 to 20 minutes under his belt and he's played a pretty good game. You just haven't noticed some of the things he's done. He got rewarded last night and he deserved it." 

Cooper noted the Hurricanes' recent success, suggesting there is little that separates the two teams. 

"Tampa is a little higher in the standings, but we both have the same amount of regulation losses (22)," Cooper said. "We've been a little more fortunate to reel in a couple games in overtime, where they haven't. That's the difference in our teams. The system [Peters] plays and how he's got his guys playing hard, it's impressive to watch." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

LIGHTNING 

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan  
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov  
Cedric Paquette - Valtteri Filppula - J.T. Brown  
Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle - Jonathan Marchessault  

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman  
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr  
Slater Koekkoek - Matt Carle 

Ben Bishop  
Andrei Vasilevskiy  

Injured: Jason Garrison (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand) 
Scratched: Erik Condra, Nikita Nesterov  

HURRICANES 

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Phillip Di Giuseppe   
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil   
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm   
Chris Terry - Jay McClement - Riley Nash  

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey   
John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce   
Noah Hanifin - Michal Jordan   

Cam Ward  
Eddie Lack  

Injured: Justin Faulk (leg), James Wisniewski (knee) 

Scratched: Nathan Gerbe, Brad Malone   

Status report: Paquette, who blocked a shot with his left foot Saturday, is expected to play. 

Who's hot: Killorn has a goal and three assists in his past three games. ... Stamkos has a goal in each of the past two games. ... Jordan Staal has five goals and 10 assists in his past 12 games. ... Nash has a four-game point streak (3-2-5).

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