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Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes preview: The Second Round opener

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Both teams have never met each other in playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes: ROUND 2, GAME 1

Time: 5:00 PM Eastern Time

Location: PNC Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, TVAS, SN

Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country

Just like the first-round series against the Florida Panthers, the second round match-up against the Carolina Hurricanes will be the first ever in the playoffs. While this series might lack a rivalry and a mutual hatred of the recent Sunshine State showdown, the Lightning-Hurricanes match-up is expected to be more tough and close.

The season series between the two teams ended up split pretty evenly, with the Lightning posting a 4-3-0-1 record against the Hurricanes. Statistically speaking, the Canes look like a slight favorite here – they out-shot the Lightning 18-17 and their underlying numbers look stronger than the Lightning’s. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Canes were a better team in the shot department, controlling approximately 51.02% of the shots and 50.66% of expected goal share at 5v5. Even the Hurricanes special teams finished their head-to-head match-up with a better percentage.

The Lightning, however, have added a significant piece to their lineup during the playoffs which they lacked during the regular season: Nikita Kucherov. Carolina’s head coach Rod Brind’Amour called him an “X-factor“ and “probably the freshest guy in the league“ in his recent interview. Kucherov’s performance on the power play carried the Lightning through the first round, and over the course of the series he seemed more adjusted to the game at full strength. Even with playing at a lower level of his capabilities, he managed to record 11 points in six games. This was a new franchise record for most points in a single postseason series, which beat his own record from 2018.

The return of Barclay Goodrow will also play a big part in this series. The Lightning certainly missed the grinder, both for what he brings to the team and for his penalty kill contribution. Jon Cooper recently compared him to 4x4 Jeep which gets you through mud.

According to the yesterday’s practice, the Lightning will use exactly the same lineup against the Canes which played in Game 6 against the Panthers. Goodrow returned to the left wing of Yanni Gourde’s line, while Ross Colton was moved to the fourth line.

The Canes are also expected to roll the same lineup which played in their latest game. Alex Nedeljkovic will be the starter for this series.

The Lightning will open this series with two games in Raleigh on Sunday and Tuesday and will return to Amalie Arena on Thursday and Saturday.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman

Pat Maroon - Tyler Johnson - Ross Colton

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - David Savard

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Carolina Hurricanes Lines

Forwards

Brock McGinn - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trochek - Martin Necas

Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele

Jordan Martinook - Steven Lorentz - Jesper Fast

Defense

Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton

Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce

Jake Bean - Jani Hakanpaa

Goaltenders

Alex Nedeljkovic

Petr Mrazek