It was a pretty eventful morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as the Lightning and Hurricanes prepared for their third meeting of the season tonight. It was eventful even though Carolina stayed at the hotel and didn’t skate. More on that later. Tonight’s meeting is an extremely important one for the Lightning if they have any aspirations of catching the Hurricanes in the race for the Southeast Division crown, as Carolina sits atop the group with 31 points, eight more than Tampa Bay’s 23. A loss and the Bolts would fall to 10 points back. A win and they are within striking distance at six.
There were some shake-ups for both teams this morning as Adam Hall, placed on waivers by the Lightning yesterday, was claimed by…wait for it…the Hurricanes. So Hall’s equipment will get dragged down the hall at the Times Forum and hung in the visiting locker room. He’ll get fitted for a new sweater, helmet and some new pants and make his Carolina debut against the Lightning. That is a pretty strange occurrence.
The Lightning recalled Hall’s former line-mate on the “DNA” line, Dana Tyrell, this afternoon. He is expected to play tonight despite the late call up. According to Tom Pyatt he will also return to the Tampa Bay line-up tonight. By process of elimination, that means Pierre-Cedric Labrie will sit out. Guy Boucher will also go with six defensemen tonight with Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brian Lee sitting out. Unfortunately for them, the strong play of newcomer Radko Gudas has the coaching staff unable to take him out.
Mathieu Garon will get the start for Tampa Bay. It will be his first appearance since suffering a lower body injury and hitting the IR on March 4. He was removed from the IR on March 12.
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Thing to Keep an Eye On: Spreading it around. The Lightning have really spread their scoring around against the Hurricanes this season. They have just one player with more than one goal against the Hurricanes this season, and that is Pyatt. They have a total of eight players with at least a goal against Carolina this season.
On the Rise: Garon. Despite Anders Lindback playing well recently, going back to Garon tonight makes perfect sense. Lindback has started four of the previous five games and deserves a break and Garon has had great success against the Hurricanes this season with a 2-0-0 record and a 1.50 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
Boarded Up: The Hurricanes power play has struggled this season, and that is putting it nicely. They rank 29th in the league overall and have found the back of the net just two times in the previous nine games, good for 6.7 percent (2-for-30) during that time.