Lightning in tough stretch, face Hurricanes next

If the Tampa Bay Lightning are to contend for the Stanley Cup, they just got a preview of what it's going to take.

The Lightning, coming off back-to-back losses to St. Louis and Washington, the past two Stanley Cup champions, will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay lost to St. Louis at home on Wednesday before suffering an overtime defeat Friday at Washington, each by a 4-3 score.

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"I've liked our game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters of his team's play in the losses. "It's just unfortunate we've just got only one point out of it from four."

Brayden Point scored his 100th career goal and had an assist for Tampa Bay against the Capitals. Nikita Kucherov had three assists for the second time this season, but he also picked up a penalty that helped set up the tying goal by Washington's Alex Ovechkin midway through the third period.

The Capitals rallied after trailing 3-1 through two periods.

"I think we need to do a better job just winning games," Lightning forward Alex Killorn told The Tampa Bay Times. "We're going to be in a lot of these tight games. That's a great team over there, but we have to do our best to come out of these games with a win."

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury, but defenseman Braydon Coburn left after the first period with an apparent knee injury and didn't return.

Carolina has also lost two in a row, a 3-2 defeat Wednesday against the host New York Rangers and a 3-0 loss Friday at home against Nashville.

"We were not poor (Friday), that's for sure," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We just weren't able to capitalize. That's it."

The latter marked the first time the Hurricanes were shut out this season. They went 0-for-3 on the power play.

"They played a great road game," Carolina center Jordan Staal said. "We could have been better, especially on the power play."

The Hurricanes' penalty kill was 4-for-4, improving their total to 29-for-31 (93.5 percent) over their past 10 games.

"We've done a better job of being patient at times when we should, and then being aggressive when we can," Staal said. "I thought our D did a great job of pressuring in the corners to kind of create some turnovers, and down ice, we made it difficult for them to get in the zone comfortably."

Tampa Bay and Carolina will be meeting for the second time this season. The Hurricanes won 4-3 in overtime at home on Oct. 6, notable because the Lightning failed to register a shot in the second period and had just 13 overall, tied for the fourth-fewest in franchise history.

Tampa Bay has points in its past 13 games against Carolina (11-0-2) and have a nine-game home winning streak in the series.

"A very good team. We've got a big challenge ahead of us," Staal said of Saturday's game. "It's good. We'll get right back into it against a good team and find a way to get a good road win."

--Field Level Media

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