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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, April 3rd (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (39-32-8) at Tampa Bay Lightning (43-32-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of Southeast Division rivals meet for the final time in the regular season tonight, as the Tampa Bay Lightning invite the Carolina Hurricanes to St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning hold a slim 4-3 edge in the season series so far and have taken seven of the last 12 overall meetings between the teams. Carolina has also dropped five of seven and nine of its last 12 games in Tampa.

This evening's test has numerous playoff implications for the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay has 90 points and is seventh in the East standings. The Bolts can clinch a playoff berth tonight if they win and Toronto loses its game to Philadelphia.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes have 86 points and are two behind Montreal for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East. If the Canadiens beat Boston and Carolina loses in regulation tonight, then the Hurricanes will be knocked out of the playoff race.

Tampa comes into this evening's tilt with wins in each of its last two games. The most recent triumph came Saturday against visiting Washington, as Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and two assists to lead the Lightning to a 5-2 decision.

Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle each added a goal and an assist, with St. Louis extending his point streak to six games. Johan Holmqvist stopped 23 shots for Tampa Bay.

St. Louis' performance on Saturday also gave him 101 points on the year, making him the second player in club history to eclipse the century mark. Lecavalier was the first to do it earlier this season and currently has 106 points.

The Lightning, who are 21-17-1 as the host this year, are playing the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight. Tampa will also host Florida on Friday before closing out the regular season Saturday in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were able to halt a three-game losing streak Sunday as they defeated the Florida Panthers in overtime. Carolina rallied from two goals down late in the game to upend the Panthers, 4-3, at BankAtlantic Center. Ray Whitney scored 1:30 into the extra session to complete the comeback.

Whitney added an assist, while Rod Brind'Amour had a goal and a helper for Carolina. Cam Ward finished with 28 saves in the win.

Tonight marks the final road test of the regular season for the Hurricanes, who will finish the year on a two-game homestand. Carolina is 19-17-4 as the visiting team this season.

04/03 11:25:06 ET

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