Here is a breakdown of tonight’s game with some help from the fine folks at NHL.Com. Be sure to checkout their video game highlights of all the action.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won four of the five meetings in 2012-13, but the Carolina Hurricanes won the series finale 3-2 on April 21 in Tampa Bay. This is the first of three games between the teams this season. Lightning coach Jon Cooper was noticeably upset following his team’s lackluster performance in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at Prudential Center that snapped his team’s three-game winning streak. Cooper was most concerned over the fact his team, which averages 3.17 goals per game, generated merely 17 shots on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
“All [Brodeur] had to do [in the third] was make four stops and win a hockey game. Seems simple enough to me,” Cooper said. “We sustain pressure [late in the second] we get back into the game and we could have had the lead. So why can’t we do that for more than six minutes a game? That’s the frustrating part. And the guys are working hard and in their heads they are trying to make plays and I get that. But sometimes making a play is making the simple play and we’ve gotten away from that.”
Steven Stamkos extended his point-scoring streak to four games in the loss to the Devils on Tuesday, but goalie Ben Bishop sustained his first loss in three starts despite a 20-save performance.
Captain Martin St. Louis took his giveaway that led to Jaromir Jagr’s game-winning goal midway through the second period to heart.
“It’s a simple play, a [defensemen to defensemen] pass and it went under my toe [of the stick]. I fanned on it and it’s a nothing play that changed it to a pretty big play for them,” St. Louis said. “I was praying that [Bishop] could come up with the save. He’s made some pretty big saves for us this year but it just didn’t happen on that one.
“So that one’s on me.”
For Carolina it appears as though goalie Justin Peters will be given every opportunity to be the No. 1 while starter Cam Ward and backup Anton Khudobin are sidelined by injuries. In a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, Peters made 26 saves and did nothing to disappoint coach Kirk Muller.
“He feels like he’s a better goalie than a year ago,” Muller told the Raleigh News & Observer. “He worked hard all summer. These [injuries] happen and bang, next thing you know it falls right on his plate. He’s a confident kid and this is his opportunity. You only get so many.”
Khudobin (lower body) is expected to miss at least another week and Ward (lower body) will miss up to a month. In the meantime, Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford signed former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro to a professional tryout with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
The Hurricanes on Thursday signed veteran center Manny Malhotra, 33, to a one-year, two-way contract. Malhotra had signed a professional tryout contract with the Checkers on Oct. 3.
Who’s hot: St. Louis has three goals and four points in his team’s past four games. … Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has two goals and six points in the past seven games.
Injury report: The Lightning are without forward Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone), who is expected to be out until at least late November. … Defenseman Brett Bellemore (lower body) is doubtful and forwards Jeff Skinner (upper body) and Radek Dvorak (lower body) are on injured reserve for Carolina.