(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes certainly looked rusty in their
season debut over the weekend. They hope for an improved effort on Tuesday
evening in a home matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After raising expectations this offseason by acquiring Jordan Staal from
Pittsburgh in a trade and signing winger Alexander Semin, the Hurricanes
opened the season on Saturday in Florida, where they were routed 5-1 by the
Patrick Dwyer had the lone goal, while Staal and Semin combined to post three
shots. Staal was credited with eight hits, while Semin took a pair of two-
Carolina trailed 4-0 at the end of the first period and went 0-for-6 on the
"That's a tough one, after the first, to come back to," said 'Canes coach Kirk
Muller. "We've got to look at the positives to build on. When we played our
game and stuck to the system and played it correctly, we put the momentum in
our favor. There's still things we can work on to get better."
Cam Ward will certainly hope to improve after failing to make it past the
first period. He faced 12 shots and yielded four goals, three of them while
Dan Ellis stopped 12-of-13 shots faced in two periods of relief.
"You've got to be ready for anything. There's been a lot of time off and
there's going to be some rust," Ellis admitted. "It's going to take a little
time to fine-tune things."
Ward is expected to start this game.
Carolina will look to rebound during a stretch of playing four of five at
home. That includes Thursday against Buffalo to begin a home-and-home series.
The Lightning will open a five-game homestand on Friday after wrapping up the
second of back-to-back road games on Tuesday. Tampa Bay won its home opener on
Saturday, but dropped a 4-3 decision to the New York Islanders on Monday.
The Bolts yielded three goals in the second and another early in the third
before netting three straight tallies of their own to close the gap. Martin
St. Louis, Benoit Pouliot and Steven Stamkos all scored in the frame, but
Tampa could not complete the rally.
"We know we can come back," said Stamkos. "There's a lot of cases of almost
and what-ifs. We need to look at the positives in the third (period) and find
a way to play that consistently throughout the game."
St. Louis and Stamkos also had assists and Anders Lindback had 40 saves in the
game, which was the 1,000th in the career of Lightning captain Vincent
Lecavalier. He became the 29th active player to reach that milestone and just
the fifth No. 1 overall pick with the team that originally drafted them.
Stamkos' goal was his first of the season after he led the NHL with 60 in
2011-12. He had five goals and three assists versus the Hurricanes last
season, including a hat trick in a home victory on Dec. 31, 2011.
The clubs split six meetings last season and Tampa Bay has won five of its
last seven at Carolina.
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