3 Keys: Lightning at Hurricanes, Game 5 of second round


No. 3 Lightning at No. 1 Hurricanes

6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 3-1

The Carolina Hurricanes have questions about injured players and their starting goalie before getting a chance to answer the bell and keep their season alive in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour wouldn’t announce who would be the starting goalie. 

Petr Mrazek started Games 3 and 4 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. He made 35 saves in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3, but gave up six goals on 26 shots in a 6-4 loss in Game 4.

Alex Nedeljkovic started Games 1 and 2, each a 2-1 loss. He allowed four goals on 45 shots.

“I think I’ll let you guys (the media) marinate on the goalie,” Brind’Amour said. “It’ll add a little excitement to the day. It can go either way.”

Center Vincent Trocheck and forward Nino Niederreiter will skate in pregame warmups and are “hopeful” to return to the Carolina lineup, Brind’Amour said.

Trocheck missed the past two games with a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 2. Niederreiter hasn’t played in the series because of a upper-body injury he sustained in practice before Game 1. 

Forward Warren Foegele is 50-50 to play, Brind’Amour said. He played Game 4 on Saturday despite an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 3.

“Everyone is going to go in the warmup and we’ll see where we stack up,” Brind’Amour said.

The Lightning will advance past the second round for the second straight season with a win. They won Games 1 and 2 on the road and are 4-1 away from home in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We go back into their barn and we’re going to approach it the same way we did the first two games,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “These are the games that you love to play. Clinching games are always fun and we have a chance to do that.”

Teams that lead a best-of-7 series 3-1 are 294-30 (.907) winning the series, including 3-1 this season.

Here are 3 keys to Game 5.

1. Carolina prefers 5-on-5

The Hurricanes and Lightning are tied 6-6 in 5-on-5 goals in the series. The difference is Tampa Bay’s power play has outscored Carolina’s power play 6-3. The Lightning have been on the power play 14 times; the Hurricanes have been on it 11.

Carolina believes if it can keep it a 5-on-5 game it can play the way it wants to against Tampa Bay, improving its chance to win.

“We’ve been good 5-on-5,” forward Jordan Martinook said. “We’ve had a lot of chances. We’ve had zone time. … It’s no secret that we need to try and stay out of the box and be more disciplined. We can tweak some things on our penalty kill, but our 5-on-5 game has been pretty solid.”

2. Lightning under pressure

The Lightning know how these situations go; the team facing elimination will come out filled with all kinds of energy, looking to hit, play fast and score early. 

It looked like they were prepared for just that in Game 5 against the Florida Panthers in the first round, when forward Ross Colton gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead 53 seconds into the game. 

But the Panthers kept coming, the pressure intense. The Lightning put them on the power play three times in the first period. They killed them off, but finally by the second Florida was wearing them out, leading to a 4-1 win that extended the series to Game 6.

“We’ve got to be smart and that means being smart with the puck,” Hedman said. “They really thrive on turnovers and if we turn the puck over it’s going to be a long night for us. Just trust our game plan, trust the skill and knowledge we have in our group, and go out there and execute.”

3. Hurricanes must produce on power play

Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton said he noticed Tampa Bay was more aggressive on its two penalty kills in Game 4. It was successful on each and didn’t even allow a shot on goal.

The Hurricanes need better zone entries and puck control on the power play in Game 5. They have to be able to better use their power plays to their advantage, especially considering the Lightning’s power play is so dangerous, going 3-for-6 in Game 4 and 6-for-14 in the series.

“They came with a lot more pressure, we have to be ready for it,” Hamilton said. “It’s a long series, they’re going to change things we have to adapt and we have to change things and make them adapt.”

Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei SvechnikovSebastian AhoTeuvo Teravainen

Brock McGinnJordan StaalJesper Fast

Nino Niederreiter — Jordan Martinook — Martin Necas

Cedric PaquetteSteven LorentzMorgan Geekie

Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton

Jake BeanBrett Pesce

Brady SkjeiJani Hakanpaa

Alex Nedeljkovic 

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Maxime Lajoie, Max McCormick, Jake Gardiner, Drew Shore, Ryan Suzuki, Roland McKeown, James Reimer

Injured: Vincent Trocheck (lower body), Warren Foegele (upper body)

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

Alex KillornAnthony CirelliSteven Stamkos

Barclay GoodrowYanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Ross Colton — Tyler JohnsonPat Maroon

Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevDavid Savard

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Cal Foote, Mitchell Stephens, Gemel Smith, Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin, Fredrik Claesson, Ben Thomas, Alex Barre-Boulet, Daniel Walcott, Andreas Borgman, Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, Mathieu Joseph, Luke Schenn

Injured: None

Status report

Neither team held a morning skate Tuesday. … Niederreiter practiced Monday for the first time since his injury.

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