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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 7th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (34-27-5) at Tampa Bay Lightning (21-31-13), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will shoot for a clean sweep of the season series against Tampa Bay when they visit the Lightning for tonight's Southeast Division battle at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Hurricanes are 5-0 against Tampa this season and have won six straight, eight of nine and nine of the last 11 meetings between the clubs. Carolina has also taken two in a row and three of four road tilts against the Lightning, but the Bolts have still won four of the last seven matchups on their home ice.

Carolina is battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and is currently just one point out of a postseason berth. With 73 points, the Hurricanes are even with Buffalo for the conference's ninth seed and are just one back of Florida, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, who are all tied for the final three postseason spots in the East.

The 'Canes enter tonight's test riding a two-game winning streak and are coming off Friday's lopsided win over visiting Calgary. Ray Whitney notched the third hat trick of his career as Carolina crushed the Flames, 6-1, at RBC Center.

Sergei Samsonov had a goal and an assist while Scott Walker and newly acquired Erik Cole each lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who have won six of their last eight games. Cam Ward stopped 21 shots in the victory.

Cole returned to Carolina at Wednesday's trade deadline, coming over from Edmonton as part of a three-team deal that also involved Los Angeles. Cole is back with the club he spent the first six years of his NHL career with before he was dealt to the Oilers in the offseason in a deal which saw defenseman Joni Pitkanen come to the 'Canes.

Carolina has won five of its last seven road games and is 16-14-4 as the visiting club this season.

The Lightning, who are 19 points out of a playoff spot, have lost two straight, four of five and eight of their last 10 games.

Tampa was also in action on Friday and was dealt an overtime setback by visiting St. Louis. Brad Boyes scored just 27 seconds into OT and added two assists to lift the Blues to the 4-3 decision over the Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.

Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. Karri Ramo was tagged for four goals on 36 shots.

Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, has four goals in his last five games and the 19-year-old has 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 62 games during his rookie season.

Tampa is just 11-13-9 as the host this year and is capping a three-game homestand tonight. The Lightning have lost two straight and five of their last six home tests.

03/07 10:55:03 ET


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