NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, October 6th (All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (0-1-0) at Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Southeast Division members seeking to turn around an undesired start to the 2009-10 season will face off this evening at Raleigh's RBC Center, where the Carolina Hurricanes return home to battle the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Hurricanes hope to rebound from Saturday's 7-2 shellacking by the Boston Bruins, the team Carolina upset in seven games last May to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, at TD Garden. That loss came on the heels of a 2-0 setback to Philadelphia in Carolina's home opener this past Thursday.
Boston jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead and converted 4-of-8 power-play opportunities on the night. Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, making his second start since agreeing to a new six-year contract last week, stopped just 24- of-28 shots before being removed with 9:23 left in the second period. Carolina made good on just 1-of-10 chances with the man advantage in the lopsided loss.
"We were bad in pretty much every area we could be," said Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice.
Making matters worse for Carolina, the team learned that veteran forward Erik Cole will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks after sustaining a fracture in his lower left leg during the third period of Saturday's game. The eighth-year pro contributed 15 points (2 goals, 13 assists) in 17 games for the 'Canes after being re-acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline back in March.
On a more positive note, the Hurricanes may get defenseman Joni Pitkanen back in the lineup for tonight's clash. The 26-year-old, who totaled seven goals and 26 assists and is a important part of the team's power play, sat out the first two games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery performed on September 10.
Tampa Bay was also routed its last time out, dropping a 6-3 decision at Atlanta in its 2009-10 debut on Saturday. The defeat was the 10th in a row dating back to last season for the Lightning, which finished 2008-09 next-to- last in the NHL with 66 total points.
The Lightning outshot the Thrashers by a 39-28 margin, but netminder Mike Smith managed to save only 22-of-28 chances.
"Disappointed, I was looking for a better start than that, obviously," said Smith afterward. "Tough one to swallow. But it's a long year, so (I'll) try and get over it quickly."
Martin St. Louis scored a pair of second-period goals to rally Tampa Bay back from a 4-0 deficit, and the Lightning pulled within one on Andrej Meszaros' tally 2:11 into the third period. However, Atlanta responded with goals from Rich Peverley and Ilya Kovalchuk over a span of 1:23 to thwart the comeback attempt.
The Hurricanes dominated the 2008-09 season series between these divisional foes, taking all six matchups. In addition, the Lightning have lost in each of their last six visits to the RBC Center and seven in a row overall against Carolina.
10/06 10:33:27 ET