NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 22nd (All times eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (18-15-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (15-17-3), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will aim to carry over the momentum of a last-minute victory last time out when they host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay had dropped three in a row before downing Toronto, 2-1, on Thursday. The NHL's leading scorer, Vincent Lecavalier, scored on a one-time shot with 41.6 seconds left to clinch the win.
Lecavalier also had an assist and leads the league with 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists). He took a feed from Martin St. Louis at the bottom of the right circle and tucked the puck inside the near post. Toronto's Pavel Kubina was trying to defend on the play in the right circle, but he was missing a stick, which had been broken.
Jason Ward also scored and Karri Ramo stopped 31 shots for his first NHL victory.
Toronto is closing out the month of December with four home games in five tests. The club will be in Washington on Tuesday before returning home for two straight.
That's a good thing for the Lightning, who are 12-5-2 as the home team this season.
For Carolina, which leads the third-place Lightning by six points in the Southeast Division, the club lost a bit off of its edge over Florida on Thursday. Brett McLean scored the deciding goal late in the third period, as the Panthers edged the Hurricanes, 5-4.
Erik Cole and Ray Whitney each posted a goal and an assist, while Andrew Ladd and Cory Stillman also tallied for Carolina, which had a two-game winning streak snapped. John Grahame made 36 saves for the Hurricanes in the loss.
The victory moved Florida to within three points of first-place Carolina.
Justin Williams also exited the game with 6:11 remaining in the first period with a left knee injury, which turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Williams, who has nine goals and 21 assists on the year, will miss four-to-six months recovering from the ACL tear.
Also, Craig Adams will serve the second portion of his two-game suspension tonight.
The Hurricanes will play the middle part of a three-game road trip tonight, and are 9-8-2 as the visitor this season. Carolina will play in New York against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay is 3-1 against the Hurricanes this year and has taken seven of eight and eight of the last 11 encounters between the clubs. Carolina has dropped three straight, four of five and eight of its previous 10 tilts at the Forum.
12/22 10:53:03 ET