Carolina
Hurricanes
43-33-6
Tampa Bay
Lightning
31-42-9

37 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
CAR
TBL
game preview

Hurricanes-Lightning Preview

Saturday, 12.22.2007 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

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Hurricanes-Lightning Preview
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Vincent Lecavalier keyed Tampa Bay ending its most recent slide on Thursday.

Now, the NHL's leading scorer will try to build on his history of strong play against the Carolina Hurricanes when the Lightning host the Southeast Division leaders on Saturday.

Lecavalier scored the game-winner with 42 seconds left and added an assist in Thursday's 2-1 win over Toronto, helping Tampa Bay (15-17-3) halt a three-game losing streak. Lecavalier has seven goals and nine assists during an eight-game point streak at home, where the Lightning also had lost three straight.

"Just to get a win, it definitely feels good," said Lecavalier, who leads the NHL with 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists).

The victory was Tampa Bay's first at home since defeating Carolina 2-1 on Dec. 6.

The Lightning are tied with Atlanta for third place in the Southeast, six points behind the Hurricanes (18-15-3). Carolina leads the division by just three points following Thursday's 5-4 loss to second-place Florida.

Tampa Bay has won seven of its last eight against the Hurricanes, including three of four this season. Carolina has lost three straight and 12 of 15 at Tampa.

The Lightning have outscored the Hurricanes 16-7 this season and have allowed more than one goal just once.

"It's always a challenge when you're coming in here and playing the Lightning," said Carolina goalie Cam Ward said after losing the most recent meeting.

Lecavalier has been a big part of Tampa Bay's success against Carolina. He has scored a goal in each of the last eight meetings, totaling 10 goals and eight assists.

Lecavalier has 29 assists and 51 points all-time versus Carolina, his most in each category against any team. Of course, he has played more games (50) against Carolina than any other opponent.

The Lightning also got a boost on Thursday from goalie Karri Ramo, who made 31 saves in his first career start. Top goalie Johan Holmqvist had been pulled from three of his last four starts, and backup Marc Denis is 1-5-0 with a 4.05 goals-against average in 10 games this season.

"We were really desperate for a win," Ramo said. "Everybody was so pumped up to win this game."

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, lost Thursday after winning back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 10 and 12. Ray Whitney, Cory Stillman, Erik Cole and Andrew Ladd had goals for Carolina, which has allowed at least four goals in five of its last six games.

"We let one slip away tonight, especially after being up 3-1 in the first," said Stillman, who leads the team with 18 goals and 37 points. "They worked hard for 60 minutes and that was the difference."

The bigger loss for Carolina from that game, however, was Justin Williams. The right winger, tied for fifth on the team with 30 points, tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss at least four months. Williams had played in 205 consecutive regular-season games dating to March 27, 2004, the fourth-longest streak in franchise history.

The Hurricanes also will be without winger Craig Adams, who is completing a two-game suspension stemming from a high-sticking incident.

Teammates David Tanabe and Chad LaRose did not play Thursday and remain day to day after sustaining concussions in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win over Toronto.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 02 '08TBL 2 at CAR 6C. LaRose
Mar 29 '08CAR 1 at TBL 2J. Halpern
Mar 01 '08TBL 1 at CAR 5J. Corvo
Dec 22 '07CAR 4 at TBL 1R. Whitney
Dec 06 '07CAR 1 at TBL 2M. St. Louis
Nov 23 '07TBL 3 at CAR 4G. Wesley
Nov 14 '07CAR 1 at TBL 6V. Lecavalier
Nov 08 '07TBL 5 at CAR 1S. O'Brien
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%