The Carolina Hurricanes will try to avoid losing a third straight game for the first time this season when they host the rival Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday's Southeast Division battle at PNC Arena.
The Hurricanes have lost two straight in regulation, matching the 0-2-0 slide that began their season. Both setbacks have come without the services of forward Jeff Skinner, who is out with a concussion suffered on Feb. 14 against Toronto.
Skinner is considered day-to-day and is expected to miss Saturday's game. He did participate in the morning skate on Saturday, but was donning a yellow, non-contact jersey.
Carolina's most recent setback came Thursday night against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Blake Wheeler scored the game-winning goal with just under five minutes left to lift the Jets to the 4-3 decision. Wheeler's decisive goal came just 16 seconds after Carolina's Jiri Tlusty tallied to tie the game at 3-3.
"We have to do a better job," Tlusty said. "We didn't execute after the goal we scored and that was the big key."
Tlusty notched a pair of goals and Jordan Staal added another for the Hurricanes, who had won three straight before the current skid. Cam Ward stopped 19 shots in the setback.
The loss dropped Carolina's home record to 3-3-0 this season.
In addition to Skinner, the Hurricanes are also without defenseman Jamie McBain, who is expected to miss 1-to-2 weeks with an unspecified upper body injury. McBain suffered the injury in Monday's 3-0 loss at Montreal.
After ending a six-game slide with consecutive wins, the Lightning were back on the losing end in their last outing, Thursday's 4-2 loss to visiting Boston. The game was the first meeting of the season between the Bruins and Lightning as a Feb. 9 contest in Boston was postponed due to a blizzard. That game will be made up on April 25.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, while Cory Conacher also lit the lamp. Anders Lindback stopped 22-of-26 shots in defeat.
"Our players definitely competed today, although this was probably the most intense game all year by far," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "That (Boston) was a great team out there, and the way they played, that's why they've only lost two games."
Beginning with Saturday's test, Tampa is playing six of its next seven games on the road. The Lightning are 2-4-0 as the guest so far this season.
One of Tampa Bay's two road wins came at Carolina, as the Bolts notched a 4-1 win in Raleigh on Jan. 22. Mathieu Garon stopped 35-of-36 shots sent his way by the Hurricanes in that game.
Tampa has won two straight and five of its last six games at Carolina and has claimed seven of the past 11 encounters overall.