Carolina (26-22-7) at Tampa Bay (33-17-5)

By JEFF BARTL, STATS Writer Friday, Feb 11, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:30 pm EST Sat Feb 12, 2011

The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t done much to solidify their postseason case of late as their offense has struggled.

That may change if the Tampa Bay Lightning can’t figure out how to stop the opposition’s attack.

Tampa Bay continues its NHL record-tying 12-game homestand Saturday night against Carolina, which has dropped four of five.

The Lightning (33-17-5) allowed six total goals and recorded back-to-back shutouts during a six-game winning streak from Jan. 18-Feb. 1. They’ve lost two of three since while giving up 15 goals, including five in the third period Tuesday in a 7-4 loss to Buffalo.

Dwayne Roloson(notes) record both shutouts during the winning streak, but has lost each game for Tampa Bay during its recent funk. He allowed all seven goals against the Sabres and yielded four in a 5-2 loss to Washington on Feb. 4.

The Lightning took a 3-1 lead midway through the second period Tuesday before Buffalo responded with six consecutive goals.

“We kind of lost our composure,” Steven Stamkos(notes) said. “It’s a tough game, especially with us being up 3-1 on home ice.”

Stamkos notched an assist, giving him an NHL-high 73 points. He has two goals and an assist in two meetings with Carolina this season, with each team winning once.

Vincent Lecavalier(notes) scored twice and added an assist Tuesday, and Sean Bergenheim(notes) also scored a pair of goals. Lecavalier has scored in two straight after netting one goal from Dec. 30-Feb. 4 for Tampa Bay, which is 4-2-0 on its homestand.

Carolina’s recent struggles on the road may help improve that record.

The Hurricanes (26-22-7) are 1-5-1 in their last seven away from home, being outscored 23-11 in that stretch after a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday. Carolina is 1-3-1 in its last five, scoring two goals or less in each loss.

Since a 6-4 home victory Jan. 15 against Tampa Bay, the Hurricanes are 4-6-1 and have been shut out twice. Despite the slump, Tuomo Ruutu(notes) likened Carolina’s position to that of last season’s Flyers, who made the Stanley Cup finals as a No. 7 seed.

“All the teams are pretty equal in the conference,” said Ruutu, who ended a 12-game goalless drought in the loss. “If we can make the playoffs we have a chance to go all the way as well.”

That may be a tall task if Cam Ward(notes) continues to struggle. He’s 1-3-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average in his last five starts and 1-5-2 with a 2.77 GAA in his last eight on the road.

Ward, however, is 9-2-0 with a 2.52 GAA in his last 11 against the Lightning. Backup Justin Peters(notes) took the loss Dec. 20 in Tampa Bay’s 5-1 win.

Jussi Jokinen(notes) had two goals and an assist and Eric Staal(notes) had a goal and two assists in the January victory against the Lightning.

The teams have split the last eight meetings.

Tampa Bay and the now-defunct California Golden Seals in 1975-76 are the only teams in NHL history to host 12 straight games.

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Saturday, Feb 12