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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Staal Looks to Make it 11 Straight

Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 12:12 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Staal Looks to Make it 11 Straight
The Carolina Hurricanes will close out their longest homestand of the season tonight with a divisional opponent in the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Michael Smith
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This is music to Eric Staal’s ears. Staal has more goals (29) and points (58) against Tampa Bay than he does against any other team in his National Hockey League career. In his last 10 meetings with the Bolts, Staal has 14 points (4g, 10a).

Not to mention, he’s riding a season-high 10-game point streak that has seen him net seven goals and earn a helper on 11 others. The longest point streak in Carolina franchise history since relocation is 11 games, set by Staal in 2010. The franchise record is 18 games, set by Mike Rogers in 1980-81. Staal has also put together a nine-game assist streak, a new franchise record since relocation.

“Staal is such a workhorse and can take so many minutes,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “When he’s going, he skates, he moves and it’s a quick tempo.”

Sandwiched by wingers Zach Boychuk and Jiri Tlusty, Staal’s line might draw some defensive assignments tonight, as well.

The third line will be tasked with shutting down Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell, who have combined for 188 points this season. Stamkos leads the League in goals with 45. Purcell brings an eight-game point streak into tonight’s game after recording 3 points (1g, 2a) on Friday against New York. And St. Louis has 60 points (22g, 38a) in 59 games.

They’ll likely see the bulk of Tampa Bay’s ice time, even after playing 20-plus minutes each last night. St. Louis led the team in ice time with 28:10 in Tampa Bay’s overtime win. Stamkos logged 25:42 and Purcell, 23:20.

“It’s no secret that Sutter’s line will probably see a lot of them,” Muller said. “But, if they play a lot, there’s going to be more than one line that has to do the job. I’m very comfortable with Staalsy’s line going against them, as well. Our D-pairings are going to be important.

“We’ve got to stop Stamkos,” Muller said. “He’s on fire.”

Tampa Bay might be saying the same thing about Staal, who’s likely to draw the attention of their best defensive groupings, as well.

Re-entering the Canes’ lineup for the first time in seven games will be forward Chad LaRose. He’s only played in six of the team’s last 21 games due to varying injuries, the most recent of which being an upper-body concern.

“He’s been skating with Johnny [MacLean] and Roddy [Brind’Amour], who have been working him,” Muller said. “We need his energy and tempo.”

For a team that is two games over .500, Tampa Bay has a dismal road record of 10-19-4. Though they bring a three-game winning streak into tonight’s game, they’ve won just two of their last six games on the road.

On the other end of the ice, the Hurricanes haven’t lost back-to-back games in regulation since early January. The Canes have a chance tonight to earn eight of a possible 12 points during their homestand before embarking on a season-long five game trek up and down the East coast.

This game is the fifth of six meetings between the two teams this season. The teams have alternated victories, Tampa Bay taking the first and third and Carolina winning the second and fourth meetings. That fourth meeting was a resounding 5-2 win for the Hurricanes, who jumped out to an early and commanding 4-1 lead.

Cam Ward will get the start in net, his 400th game in the NHL, all with this franchise. Brian Boucher was removed from injured reserve and will back up Ward, the first time Boucher has dressed since Dec. 3.



SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61