The Tampa Bay Lightning appeared to be turning their disappointing season around at the end of December, but so far, 2012 has not been kind to the Bolts.
The Lightning will try to halt a four-game slide when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in tonight's Southeast Division matchup at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay closed December with a 5-1-1 record and ended the 2011 calendar year on a three-game winning streak. However, the Lightning have gone 0-3-1 in January and have been outscored 19-9 during that skid.
The Lightning were within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, but Guy Boucher's club enters tonight 13th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes are just three points behind in the 15th spot.
Tampa was able to record a point in its most recent defeat, as the Bolts dropped a 5-4 shootout decision Tuesday against visiting Vancouver. Mason Raymond scored in the second round of the shootout to lift the Canucks to victory.
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Vincent Lecavalier all had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 24-of-28 shots. Stamkos has nine goals over his last seven games and leads the league with 29 markers this season.
Tampa is 11-5-1 as the host this year compared to a 6-15-3 record on the road. The Lightning had won four straight on home ice prior to the recent loss to the Canucks.
The Hurricanes have lost two straight and four of their last five games, and were dealt a 2-1 regulation loss by visiting Philadelphia on Tuesday. Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 35 shots, including 14 in the third period alone, to help the Flyers hold on for the victory at RBC Center.
Jerome Samson scored his first career goal to provided the sole offense for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward made 35 saves in defeat.
Carolina defenseman Jaroslav Spacek left the game with an upper-body injury late in the first period and did not return. He is questionable for today's game.
Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose is also dealing with an upper-body injury that led to him sitting out Tuesday's game. He is considered day-to-day.
The Lightning have won two of three meetings with the Hurricanes this year, and the Bolts recorded a 5-2 victory in their last meeting, on Dec. 31 in Tampa. Tampa Bay has won four of five overall in this series and Carolina has dropped three of its last four at the Forum.
Carolina is just 4-12-4 as the guest this year and has lost six straight away from Raleigh.