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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Sunday, November 16th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (5-7-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (8-7-2), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will play their first game since the shocking firing of head coach Barry Melrose when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for today's Southeast Division matchup at RBC Center.

The Lightning made the coaching change Friday, relieving Melrose of his duties after just 16 games and replacing him on an interim basis with associate coach Rick Tocchet.

Melrose was hired on June 24 after the Lightning changed ownership, but the team has struggled to a 5-7-4 mark. Melrose was in his second stint as an NHL head coach. He had most recently served as an analyst for ESPN and had not been behind an NHL bench since a three-year run as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings ended during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.

Tocchet is in his 25th year in the NHL as either a player or coach. This will mark his first head coaching position.

The Lightning have lost three straight and five of their last six games and Melrose's final test as coach of the club came in Thursday's 4-3 loss to visiting Detroit. Johan Franzen led a balanced scoring attack with a goal and an assist, as the Red Wings rallied from an early deficit to hold off Tampa Bay, 4-3.

Mark Recchi, Jussi Jokinen and Matt Pettinger all scored for the Lightning, while Olaf Kolzig allowed four goals on 39 shots in the loss.

The Lightning are just 3-4-1 as the visiting team this year and have dropped four of five on the road. Tampa will begin a four-game homestand Tuesday evening against Florida.

The Hurricanes haven't fared well recently either, as they've dropped three straight and four of their last five outings.

Carolina's most recent setback came Friday evening in Atlanta, as the red-hot Thrashers picked up their fifth straight victory. Johan Hedberg finished with 27 saves to lift Atlanta to the 3-2 win over the Hurricanes at Philips Arena.

Rod Brind'Amour and Tuomo Ruutu each had a goal while Cam Ward made 22 saves for the Hurricanes.

Carolina is 3-4-0 as the host this year and is opening a four-game homestand tonight. The Hurricanes have dropped two straight at RBC.

The Hurricanes beat Tampa in overtime on October 11 in the first of six meetings between the clubs this year. Carolina has won two straight, four of five and five of the last seven encounters.

The Lightning have dropped three straight and seven of 11 in Raleigh.

11/16 10:32:41 ET

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