Lightning eye momentum against first-place Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to get something going against the first-place Carolina Hurricanes, as they host Saturday's Southeast Division battle at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Although the Lightning have lost eight of their last 10 games and are eight points behind the Hurricanes for the top spot in the division, Tampa Bay has fared very well against Carolina this season.

The Bolts are 2-0 versus the 'Canes and have outscored them by a combined 9-3 margin. Tampa Bay received goals from five different players in a 5-2 triumph when the rivals last met on Feb. 23 in Raleigh.

The Lightning have won three of four and seven out of 10 in this series overall, but Carolina has claimed two straight and three of four in Tampa.

Despite its struggles against the Lightning this season, the Hurricanes have won six of their last eight games to keep them one point ahead of Winnipeg for first place in the division. However, Carolina will be trying to bounce back from a loss on Saturday after dropping the finale of a home-and-home set against Washington.

Carolina notched a 4-0 decision in D.C. on Tuesday, but two days later was dealt a 3-2 regulation loss by the Capitals. The Hurricanes led 2-0 after the first period, but allowed Washington to crawl back in the game and Mike Ribeiro eventually scored the go-ahead goal for the Capitals with 2:16 remaining.

Former Capital Alexander Semin scored against his old team and Patrick Dwyer added the other score for Carolina. Dan Ellis stopped 22-of-25 shots in the loss.

"We can't be happy. We had a really well executed first period. We let them back in it," said Carolina head coach Kirk Muller.

Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen has missed six straight and 12 of the last 13 games with a lower-body injury, but he is questionable for Saturday.

The Hurricanes are 8-4-1 as the road team this season and are kicking off a brief two-game swing on Saturday.

The Lightning ended a two-game slide with a 3-2 win at Florida on Tuesday, but then lost for the third time in four outings in Thursday's 2-0 setback against the visiting New York Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov posted 18 saves for New York in the shutout.

Anders Lindback gave up just one goal on 28 shots for the Lightning, who are seven points out of a playoff spot in the East.

"We just can't buy a goal lately," said Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher. "It wasn't our defense that hurt us tonight, at all. We just have to find a way to bury our chances."

Tampa defenseman Tom Pyatt sat out Thursday's loss with an upper-body injury suffered earlier this week against the Panthers. Pyatt is questionable for this game against Carolina.

Saturday's test is the middle segment of a three-game homestand for the Bolts, who are 6-7-1 at home this season. Tampa will complete its stay at the Forum in Monday's tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers.