Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Staal Looks to Make it 11 Straight

Saturday, 03.3.2012 / 12:12 PM ET / 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

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72