Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes (16-6-1, 33pts) and Florida Panthers (15-4-4, 34pts) will meet for the fourth time of the season on Sunday evening.
If it's anything like the first three games, there will not be much to separate the two teams. All three of this year's matches between Florida and Carolina have gone to overtime.
Carolina is riding a four-game winning streak.
Florida has won two straight, including a victory over the Nashville Predators last night.
A big part of the Canes' success in March has been their powerplay. They've scored on six of their last eleven chances with a man advantage. The Canes' powerplay unit now ranks fourth in the league with a conversion rate of 30.1%.
Veteran Bounce Back
Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, and Jordan Staal are all enjoying a bounce-back season.
Niederreiter, 28, has 15 points (10g, 5a) and is tied (with Martin Necas) for the team lead in plus/minus with a plus-10 rating. His ten goals rank second on the team.
Trocheck, 27, has 21 points (12g, 9a) to lead the team. He has an active four-game point streak and leads the teams in goals scored (12).
Staal, 32, has 20 points (8g, 12a), tied for 2nd on the team (with Aho). His eight goals match his total output from 68 games played last year.
Game Time Decisions
James Reimer (10-3-0, .902 SV%, 2.90 GAA) will get the start in net for the Canes. Reimer, a former Panther, has won his last two starts and six of his last eight.
Canes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour has said that Teuvo Teravainen will be a game-time decision. Teravainen returned from a concussion to play against the Red Wings on Thursday.
Jake Gardiner is expected to draw back into the lineup. Expect Jake Bean or Haydn Fleury to be the odd man out in the reshuffle of the Canes' defensive pairings.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Brock McGinn — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook — Cedric Paquette — Warren Foegele
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner — Haydn Fleury
Injuries: Petr Mrazek (hand surgery), Jake Bean (healthy)
Florida Looks to Keep Rolling
The Florida Panthers (15-4-4, 34pts) enter tonight's game tied for the Central Division lead with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although many pundits thought Florida would earn a playoff spot this year, not many thought they would contend for the Division title.
The secret to their success?
Balanced scoring and solid goalkeeping.
The scoring has come from Jonathan Huberdeau (10g, 18a), Aleksander Barkov (8g, 18a), and Patric Hornqvist (9g, 11a).
The goaltending has been supplied by Sergei Bobrovsky (8-2-2, .900 SV%, 3.00 GAA) and Chris Driedger (7-2-2, .926 SV%, 2.25 GAA).
After making 28 saves and recording a 6-2 win in Nashville last night, Bobrovsky is likely to sit out tonight's game in favor of Driedger.
Noel Acciari, who hadn't recorded a point before last night, got his third-career hat trick against Nashville.
"I was just hoping to get one," Acciari said after the game. "But to get the other two was definitely exciting, and a lot of guys are putting pressure on me about [scoring] tomorrow."
Florida's expected lines:
Frank Vatrano — Aleksander Barkov — Carter Verhaeghe
Jonathan Huberdeau — Alex Wennberg — Patric Hornqvist
Mason Marchment — Eetu Luostarinen — Grigori Denisenko
Ryan Lomberg — Juho Lammikko — Noel Acciari
MacKenzie Weegar — Aaron Ekblad
Keith Yandle — Radko Gudas
Gustav Forsling — Kevin Connauton
Injuries: Anthony Duclair (lower body), Anton Stralman (lower body)