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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, February 1st (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (27-23-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to avoid a third consecutive loss this evening, when they welcome the rival Tampa Bay Lightning to the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes dropped a game in Washington over the weekend and were then dealt a setback by the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Carolina was handed a 4-1 loss by the Leafs. Nik Antropov led the way with a pair of goals for Toronto, while Ray Whitney tallied the only goal for the Hurricanes.

Cam Ward allowed three goals on 37 shots in the losing effort.

The contest began a three-game homestand for the Hurricanes, who are 14-9-3 in Raleigh this year.

The Hurricanes have lost four of their last five games and are now eight points behind the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers. Atlanta leads the division with 66 points, Carolina is second with 58 and Tampa Bay is just two points behind the Hurricanes.

Carolina winger Erik Cole is questionable for tonight's game with a lower-body contusion after missing Tuesday's game with the same injury.

Meanwhile, the Lightning are coming off Tuesday's close victory in Philadelphia. Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, once in regulation and again during the shootout, to lift Tampa Bay over the Flyers, 4-3.

Lecavalier's goal through Robert Esche's five-hole at the 12:06 mark in the third tied the game at three. In the shootout period, the All-Star center tallied the first goal before Brad Richards clinched the victory on Tampa Bay's second attempt.

Martin St. Louis added a goal and one assist and Ruslan Fedotenko rounded out the scoring for Tampa Bay, which has won three of its last four. Netminder Johan Holmqvist turned aside 30 shots in the victory, then stopped both Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg in the shootout.

The Lightning, who are 15-10-2 as the visitor this year, are capping a brief two-game road trip tonight.

Carolina has the edge so far in the season series with the Lightning, winning three of the five encounters. Overall, the Hurricanes have taken five of the last eight matchups.

02/01 10:29:15 ET

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