Lightning-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 21, 2013
The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't get much going in their first game in more than nine months. Maybe they'll get energized by beginning their home schedule against a Southeast Division rival. Carolina opens a stretch of four of five on its own ice Tuesday night against a Tampa Bay Lightning club trying to avoid back-to-back road losses. Back from the extended NHL lockout, the Hurricanes had a rough start in what they're hoping is their first playoff season in four years, losing 5-1 to Florida on Saturday. "I think we just had guys wanting to do so much and do so well and they were so excited that it backfired," coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes' official website Monday. "I think the guys will respond tomorrow." Muller is confident that Cam Ward will have a better showing after he surrendered four first-period goals and was replaced by Dan Ellis, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in his first appearance since Dec. 29, 2011, with Anaheim. Ward went 12-3-3 with a 1.98 goals-against average in his last 18 home starts last season, but the Hurricanes finished with their fewest wins in Raleigh (20) since 2003-04. "I think what's important is that (Ward) bounces back mentally," Muller said. "I said (to him), 'Forget about it. It's done.'" The Lightning (1-1-0) are taking the same approach following Monday's 4-3 road loss to the New York Islanders. Tampa Bay allowed three goals in the second period and trailed 4-0 early in the third before scoring three unanswered goals to end the game. The Lightning, though, failed on three power-play chances after finishing 3 for 7 in Saturday's 6-3 home win over Washington. "We gave in a little too much, maybe, in the second period. That made the difference," said center Vincent Lecavalier, who played in his 1,000th game - all with Tampa Bay. The Lightning, whose 13 road wins last season tied Carolina for the fewest in the Eastern Conference, went 2-1-0 visiting the Hurricanes in 2011-12. Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos each registered four points in those games. That trio is off to a quick start in 2012-13. Purcell has set up three scores, St. Louis leads the club with three goals and five points and Stamkos has four points after recording his first goal and an assist Monday. Five of Stamkos' NHL-leading 60 goals last season came against Carolina. Captain Eric Staal led the Hurricanes with seven points (all assists) as these teams split six matchups in 2011-12. Staal's younger brother, Jordan, scored three goals in three games against Tampa Bay last season while with Pittsburgh. In his Hurricanes debut Saturday, the younger Staal took two shots and posted a minus-2 rating. "It was a little bit of nerves coming out," he admitted. Tampa Bay center Cory Conacher hasn't been overwhelmed at all, recording back-to-back two-point games to begin his NHL career. New Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback lost 4-3 in his only appearance at Carolina last Feb. 28 while with Nashville.
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