NHL Hockey

Lightning finding a bad time to take on Hurricanes?

The Carolina Hurricanes are racking up numbers that suggest a special season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been doing that way for quite some time.

The teams meet Thursday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., a pair of Eastern Conference teams that have drummed up excitement.

The Lightning already have clinched the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record with more than two weeks to play.

Yet there's so much more to accomplish.

"What you do in the regular season doesn't predict future success," Lightning coach Jon Cooper recently told the media. "We've given ourselves every advantage to get to our ultimate goal."

The Hurricanes are trending in the right direction, as well.

"I don't know about the pressure, I don't feel that at all," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour told reporters this week. "The guys are enjoying it. Obviously, the stakes are high, but it's just a game. Our approach, I think has been the same."

The Hurricanes certainly haven't looked under pressure in opening a five-game homestand with consecutive victories against Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

"You've got to keep at it," Carolina captain Justin Williams said. "You have to use every opportunity. ... Our mistakes are from effort. Because of effort, we're able to recover from it. We're doing the right things and it's really fun to play."

The matchup against the Lightning comes at a time when the Hurricanes' confidence is soaring.

"We want to play against the world's best and you want to compete," Williams said.

Tampa Bay won 5-4 in overtime Wednesday night at Washington behind a franchise-record 54 saves from goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That result pushed the Lightning's winning streak to six games.

Coming off such an emotion-filled game, not to mention the workload placed on Vasilevskiy, the goaltender almost definitely will be the backup for Thursday night's game. He became just the 11th goalie since 1955-56 to post multiple wins with 48 or more saves in the same season.

The Lightning has eight games remaining and there will continue to be a burning desire to stay sharp, Cooper said.

"We can't take our foot off the gas," he said. "We can't exhale and not play the game the right way. Right now we're still full-steam ahead."

The outing in Carolina is Tampa Bay's middle game in a three-game road trip. And the Hurricanes have reached the 20 / 20 mark -- 20 wins on the road and 20 wins at home -- for only the second time in franchise history. The other time came in the 2005-06 season, when they won the Stanley Cup.

It took Brind'Amour, a first-year coach, just 72 games to reach 40 wins, doing so in 10 fewer games than any previous coach in franchise history. He has the Hurricanes in playoff position, but his team senses it can't afford a letdown if it wants to stay there.

"The last month has felt like the playoffs," left winger Brock McGinn said. "Every game is really important."

The Hurricanes have mostly found the best mix with a combination of goalies Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney, as each has come up with clutch performances recently.

"Everybody loves the two goalies," McGinn said. "They've kept us in so many games."

Tampa Bay has won two previous meetings this season with Carolina, both at home and both by two goals.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 21, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Teams Score Time
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Ball State 7 00:47 2nd
NC State 20
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
Carolina 0 07:10 2nd
Washington 2
Teams Score Time
Boston College 30 F
Rutgers 16
California 28 F
Ole Miss 20
Elon 7 F
Wake Forest 49
LSU 66 F
Vanderbilt 38
Michigan 14 F
Wisconsin 35
Southern Mississippi 7 F
Alabama 49
Tennessee 3 F
Florida 34
Western Michigan 33 F
Syracuse 52
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Auburn 28 F
Texas A&M 20
Louisville 24 F
Florida State 35
Miami (OH) 5 F
Ohio State 76
SMU 41 F
TCU 38
UCF 34 F
Pittsburgh 35
Washington 45 F
BYU 19
Central Michigan 12 F
Miami 17
Ball State 7 00:47 2nd
NC State 20
Old Dominion 17 03:34 2nd
Virginia 7
Oregon 14 01:18 2nd
Stanford 3
Charlotte 0 14:56 2nd
Clemson 24
Oklahoma State 3 14:53 2nd
Texas 7
Notre Dame 0 10:20 1st
Georgia 0
Colorado   10:00pm
Arizona State  
UCLA   10:30pm
Washington State  
Teams Score Time
Philadelphia 1 4th
Cleveland 4
American League
Toronto 2 F
New York 7
Boston 1 6th
Tampa Bay 2
Chicago 3 7th
Detroit 2
Seattle 1 5th
Baltimore 3
Kansas City 2 5th
Minnesota 1
Los Angeles 4 4th
Houston 3
Texas   9:07pm
National League
St. Louis 9 F
Chicago 8
New York 2 F
Cincinnati 3
Washington 2 7th
Miami 0
Pittsburgh 1 4th
Milwaukee 3
San Francisco 0 4th
Atlanta 4
Arizona   8:40pm
San Diego  
Colorado   9:10pm
Los Angeles  
Teams Score Time
Atlanta   Sun 1:00pm
Baltimore   Sun 1:00pm
Kansas City  
Cincinnati   Sun 1:00pm
Denver   Sun 1:00pm
Green Bay  
Detroit   Sun 1:00pm
Miami   Sun 1:00pm
New York   Sun 1:00pm
New England  
Oakland   Sun 1:00pm
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
New York   Sun 4:05pm
Tampa Bay  
Houston   Sun 4:25pm
Los Angeles  
New Orleans   Sun 4:25pm
Pittsburgh   Sun 4:25pm
San Francisco  
Los Angeles   Sun 8:20pm
Chicago   Mon 8:15pm
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 1 F
Columbus 3
Colorado 2 10:16 3rd
Minnesota 4
Carolina 0 07:10 2nd
Washington 2
New York 2 09:06 2nd
New Jersey 2
New York 0 07:23 2nd
Philadelphia 2
Toronto 1 08:23 2nd
Buffalo 2
Montreal 0 00:00 1st
Ottawa 0
Florida 0 10:07 1st
Dallas 0
Tampa Bay 1 10:09 1st
Nashville 1
Vegas 1 08:54 1st
San Jose 0
Boston   8:30pm
Anaheim   9:00pm
Vancouver   9:00pm
Los Angeles  
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 19 Martin Truex Jr 8
2 2 Brad Keselowski 1
3 11 Denny Hamlin 6
4 18 Kyle Busch 4
5 4 Kevin Harvick 2
6 14 Clint Bowyer 5
7 9 Chase Elliott 3
8 1 Kurt Busch 9
9 48 Jimmie Johnson 10
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Christopher Bell 4
2 22 Austin Cindric 1
3 00 Cole Custer 12
4 7 Justin Allgaier 2
5 98 Chase Briscoe 5
6 18 Harrison Burton 6
7 9 Noah Gragson 8
8 8 Zane Smith 15
9 1 Michael Annett 10
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 16 Austin Hill 7
2 45 Ross Chastain 2
3 51 Christian Eckes 1
4 2 Sheldon Creed 6
5 4 Todd Gilliland 3
6 30 Brennan Poole 18
7 24 Brett Moffitt 4
8 99 Ben Rhodes 13
9 18 Harrison Burton 9