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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, April 15th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (52-21-7) at Tampa Bay Lightning (42-32-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes hope to have sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference tonight after they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum for the back end of a home-and-home.

With 111 points, the Canes are tied with the Ottawa Senators in the overall East race. Both teams have two games remaining and both are in action tonight, as Ottawa visits Toronto.

If both clubs win their final two games, Hurricanes will hold the tiebreaker over the Senators, because they'll finish with more victories.

On Friday, Matt Cullen was the only player to score in the shootout as the Hurricanes defeated the Lightning, 5-4, at the RBC Center in the opener of this set.

Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Weight and Cory Stillman had a goal and an assist apiece for Carolina, which ended a two-game skid. Justin Williams tallied a goal and Martin Gerber made 31 saves for the Hurricanes.

Carolina will conclude its regular season on Tuesday against visiting Buffalo.

For Tampa on Friday, Vaclav Prospal, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards registered a goal and an assist each, as the Lightning lost their third straight game.

Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal and Sean Burke stopped 17 shots for the Lightning, who now have 90 points -- three ahead of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Tampa Bay is three points behind Montreal for seventh-place.

The Lightning need a combination of three points gained by them and lost by the Thrashers to clinch a postseason berth. For instance, if Tampa loses in overtime this evening and Atlanta falls in regulation against Boston, the Bolts would be in.

Tampa Bay will finish its regular season at home against Washington on Tuesday.

Carolina has won the last two meetings with Tampa, but the Lightning have taken four of the seven clashes overall in 2005-06.

04/15 10:17:24 ET

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