Cincinnati.com
National Hockey League
Preview
Tampa Bay at Carolina
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

The Tampa Bay Lightning can clinch the Atlantic Division title with a victory in regulation or overtime when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Lightning lead Boston by two points and own the tiebreaker but almost lost control of their own destiny on Friday before rallying for three third-period goals en route to a 7-5 victory over NHL-worst Buffalo, as Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn recorded three points apiece.

“It’s really important,” Tampa Bay rookie center Anthony Cirelli told reporters after scoring a pair of goals on Friday while posting a plus-4 rating. “Obviously, you want home ice throughout the (Eastern Conference) playoffs, so we know in here that’s going to be a big game (Saturday).” The Lightning have earned at least one point in each of their last eight meetings (7-0-1) with Carolina, including two this season in which they scored a total of 10 goals. The Hurricanes were knocked out of the playoff chase last weekend and have lost four of their last five contests after Thursday’s 4-3 setback at Philadelphia. Sebastian Aho (team-leading 65 points) needs one goal to reach 30 for the first time in his brief career and has scored 16 at home, where the Hurricanes are 18-16-6 - including a 2-5-0 mark in their last seven.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Sun (Tampa Bay), FS Carolinas

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (54-23-4): Gourde broke the franchise rookie record for goals (25) and points (64) after netting one tally and setting up two others on Friday, while Killorn notched three assists to push his career-high point total to 47. Cirelli has made quite an impression since being recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, producing five goals and 11 points with a plus-11 rating in his first 17 NHL contests. Nikita Kucherov recorded a goal and an assist in Friday’s win to reach 100 points for the first time in his career and is one shy of 40 tallies.

ABOUT THE HURRICANES (35-35-11): Teuvo Teravainen is second on the team in points with 63 but has recorded only two assists in his last seven games while Jeff Skinner has scored 24 goals - to place second behind only Aho. Justin Williams has collected three assists in his last four contests and is one away from his sixth 50-point season while Jordan Staal needs two goals to reach 20 for the sixth time. Derek Ryan (38 points) has been wielding a hot stick of late, collecting two goals and six assists during his six-game point streak.

OVERTIME

1. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman scored his career-high 17th goal on Friday and improved his plus/minus rating to plus-33, which is best among NHL blue-liners.

2. Carolina C Elias Lindholm has been kept off the scoresheet in four straight games and remains two points away from matching his career high of 45.

3. The Hurricanes, who will finish with 35 or 36 victories for the third straight season, have not made the playoffs since 2008-09.

PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Hurricanes 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Tampa Bay 54-23-2-2 W2 29-10-2-0 25-13-0-2 4-1-0-0 50-22-2-2 18-8-1-1
Carolina 35-35-8-3 L3 18-16-5-1 17-19-3-2 3-3-1-1 32-32-7-2 10-13-4-1
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Carolina
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
1/9/18 CAR 4 TB 5 34 28 0-0 32 29 2-4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay T. Johnson 3
Carolina J. Faulk 2
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay T. Johnson 3
Carolina S. Aho 1
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay B. Point 3
Carolina T. Teravainen 2
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 28
Carolina C. Ward 29
Season
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 108
Carolina T. Teravainen 68
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 42
Carolina S. Aho 30
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 66
Carolina T. Teravainen 42
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 1992
Carolina C. Ward 1103
Quickchart Matchup
Tampa Bay Off vs  Carolina Def
3.56 GF
3.1 GA
32.7 Shots
28.8 Shots
66 PP
43 PK
Carolina Off vs  Tampa Bay Def
2.74 GF
2.85 GA
33.8 Shots
32.6 Shots
44 PP
64 PK