Lightning-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 31, 2011
Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier is heating up and the Lightning are reaping the benefits. A meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes could help them keep things headed in a positive direction. Lecavalier looks to extend a 12-game point streak against the Hurricanes when the Lightning visit Raleigh on Tuesday night. After ending the 2010-11 regular season with a 6-2 win over Carolina, which prevented the Hurricanes from making the playoffs, Tampa Bay (5-4-2) opened this season in similar fashion with a 5-1 victory over its Southeast Division rival on Oct. 7. Lecavalier scored in that victory and has six goals and nine assists in the last 12 meetings, including five goals in the last six matchups. The Tampa Bay captain has four goals and two assists in his last six games overall, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Winnipeg on Saturday. Lecavalier's production has helped the Lightning win four of five after a five-game skid. Also contributing to the current surge is strong play from goaltenders Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson. During its 0-3-2 skid, Tampa Bay gave up 25 goals. Roloson started three of those games, giving up 17, but earned his first win since the season opener with 28 saves in Saturday's shutout. "The coach, the players, everyone was in experimental mode," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said of the struggles to start the season. "Where as now, we know what we want and we're running with it." Saturday marked the team's second shutout in four games, with Garon recording the other in a 3-0 win over Buffalo on Oct. 22. "We have two really good goaltenders," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "It feels secure for us to have those two guys back there." Boucher expressed concern Monday about the status of left wing Ryan Malone, who is day to day with an undisclosed injury. Malone has two goals and an assist in the last five games. "If Malone's OK, it's a relief because we can keep our lines together," Boucher said. Even if he's unable to go, the Lightning have a good chance to extend their three-game winning streak against Carolina (4-4-3), which is coming off a 5-1 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday. Brian Boucher gave up five goals on 34 shots, including three in the first 7:36 of the third period. The poor defensive effort came one night after the Hurricanes beat Chicago 3-0 at home. Despite that impressive performance, defense has been a problem for Carolina, which ranks 25th in the NHL with 3.09 goals allowed per game. The Hurricanes, who have one win in their last five games (1-2-2), are 1 for 21 on the power play over the last five contests after converting six times in their first 33 opportunities. Still, the Hurricanes aren't too concerned about their start, which includes only three home games. They play their next three at home. "We've had a couple runs," defenseman Tim Gleason told the Hurricanes' official website. "I think there are a lot of good signs that we're coming to compete, and I think in the next month, we have to find a way to put 60 minutes together more often." Carolina has also struggled to stop Martin St. Louis, who has a seven-game point streak in this series, including a goal in each of the last three meetings.
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