The Tampa Bay Lightning embark on its second road trip of the season as they visit Raleigh, North Carolina to play the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The Lightning opened up the 2011-2012 season with a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes and look to continue their domination against the South East division foe. Tampa bay searches for its third straight victory against Carolina, which is coming off of a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson was in net for Tampa Bay's victory against Carolina earlier season and will be in net tonight. Roloson is coming off of a 29 save shutout he had Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Roloson looked impressive in that win, which was his first win since season opener and first start since Oct. 17. He looked improved and showcased a better positional game than in his previous efforts. Roloson also relieved Mathieu Garon last week against the Nashville Predators and also looked much better in that game as well. Even though Roloson was highly criticized in his first three starts of the season, letting in 17 goals, he has surely bounced back.
Goaltending is big a reason that the Lightning have won four out of its last five games after a disappointing five-game skid earlier in the season. The Roloson/Garon tandem has been huge for the Lightning. If Roloson stays on top of his game, the Lightning could prove to be a very dangerous team. Another reason the Lightning keep winning is because of the play of captain, Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier has four goals and two assists in his last six games. He also leads the NHL with three game winning tallies.
Tampa Bay's offensive weapons, Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos could prove to be too much for an inconsistent Hurricanes defense, that ranks 25th in the NHL, allowing 3.09 goals per game.
Matitas Ritola is back in the lineup tonight for the Lightning, who has been a healthy scratch while Tom Pyatt, Blair Jones, and Ryan Shannon all saw playing time in most recent games.
Carolina, who has won only one of its last five games, will most likely start Cam Ward in net. Ward has not been so hot against the Lightning in his past two outings, posting a .866 save percentage in those games. Ward did post a shutout on Friday night when the Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 3-0 at home. Ward did not play against the Flyers on Saturday.
Players to watch: Martin St. Louis has 14 points in his last seven games against Carolina (four goals and 10 assists), including three goals in the last three games against the Hurricanes. St. Louis also has a plus/minus of +9. St. Louis is a Hurricane killer. Eyes will be on Lecavalier as well, who has a 12 game point streak against the Hurricanes (six goals and nine assists).
Carolina captain Eric Staal has yet to score an even-strength goal this season. If the Hurricanes are going to get anything going against the Lightning, Staal needs to step it up.
INJURIES: Lightning: Mattias Ohlund (knee) is still on injured reserve. Ryan Malone (upper body injury) skated this morning and is expected to play tonight.
Prediction: The Lightning are coming together. Saturday night's win showed that and I think the domination over Carolina will continue. Lightning: 5 Hurricanes: 2
When: Nov. 1 at 7 p.m EDT
Where: RBC Arena Raleigh, North Carolina
Media: Sun Sports (T.V.) 970 WFLA (Radio)