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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (15-18-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (16-17-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes try to breath some life into their fading playoff hopes on Thursday evening and avoid a sixth straight loss at home in a battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Hurricanes have notched just three points over their last 10 games thanks to a 1-8-1 record. That has the former Southeast Division front runners four points behind the first-place Winnipeg Jets in the standings and five points back for the eight spot in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina was dealt a 5-3 loss by the Washington Capitals in the opener of a three-game homestand on Tuesday, wasting the first hat trick of Jiri Tlusty's career.
Dan Ellis, in his first action since suffering a cut near his left knee in a loss on March 21, was pulled 4:26 into the second period after allowing three goals on seven shots. Justin Peters relieved Ellis for the remainder of the game and gave up two goals with 10 saves.
"We gave up too many odd-man rushes," Tlusty said. "They're a high-skilled team and they always score on those chances."
Carolina also saw defenseman Joni Pitkanen leave the game during the second period on a stretcher after he slammed hard into the boards while going after a puck. He is expected to miss the rest of the season with a broken left heel bone.
Pitkanen joins No. 1 goaltender Cam Ward on the sidelines and the Hurricanes also dealt forward Jussi Jokinen to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday for a conditional draft pick in 2013.
The 30-year-old Jokinen had six goals and 11 points in 33 games this season and tallied 185 points over his 288-game stint with the Hurricanes.
The Lightning are two points behind the Hurricanes in the standings and had won two straight before suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. It was Tampa Bay's fourth loss in six games.
Tom Pyatt and Alex Killorn scored third-period goals to force overtime and Mathieu Garon came up with 23 saves before giving up the lone shootout tally. Teddy Purcell, who had two assists, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos all failed on their chances in the breakaway session.
"We certainly outshot them and out-chanced them, but their goalie stood tall," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.
Tampa won't have the services of Calder Trophy candidate Cory Conacher after trading the 23-year-old to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday for 26-year-old goaltender Ben Bishop.
Conacher had nine goals and 15 assists in 35 games, ranking second among NHL rookies with 24 points at the time of his trade.
Bishop has split 26 appearances this season in the NHL and AHL and has helped fill the void for the Sens with No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson out with injury. Bishop went 8-5-0 with a 2.45 goals against average and .922 save percentage in 13 games with Ottawa this season and will now help Tampa in net with Anders Lindback out with a high right ankle sprain.
Those two will likely compete for the starting job next season.
Tampa Bay, which also lost forward Adam Hall to the Philadelphia Flyers on waivers, will open a three-game road trip and has lost seven of its past nine as the guest.
The Lightning, though, have won the first three of five meetings this season with the Hurricanes by a 13-4 margin. They have won eight of their last 11 overall in the series as well as three straight and seven of the previous nine in Carolina.
04/04 10:39:07 ET