RALEIGH [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/mason-rudolph-jersey]http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/mason-rudolph-jersey[/url] , N.C. — The Tampa Bay Lightning have entered a playoff mode before the postseason and there’s still something to play for.
That will be the case in the regular-season finale Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
This chase for the top seed in the Eastern Conference has put the Lightning in a playoff state of mind.
“I think it’s good for us to kind of stay in that mentality,” Tampa Bay left winger Alex Killorn said.
The Hurricanes have been on the outside of the playoff picture, but they would like to take a victory into the offseason.
“We got to do it right,” Carolina forward Sebastian Aho said. “It’s just the last game. We want to play it like we want (to). Just do right, the way we want to do it.?”
The Lightning (54-23-4) are still striving for the top spot in the conference, something that can be achieved by winning the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay leads the Boston Bruins by two points. The Bruins have two games remaining, going to Ottawa on Saturday night and finishing Sunday night at home against the Florida Panthers.
Tampa Bay has won three consecutive games after the 7-5 home victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
After defeating Boston 4-0 on Tuesday, Tampa Bay had the benefit of its final two games against non-playoff teams — Buffalo and Carolina.
Tampa Bay center Tyler Johnson said winning the division is the short-term objective.
“That’s our main goal and really the only thing we’re focusing on is how can we do that, and the first step is just playing the right way and doing what we need to do [url=http://www.officialcapitals.com/authentic-adidas-alex-ovechkin-jersey]Adidas Alex Ovechkin Jersey[/url] ,” Johnson said.
The Hurricanes (35-35-11) carry a three-game losing streak into the game, with each of those outcomes a one-goal defeat.
“We’ll play better on Saturday,” Hurricanes center Elias Lindholm said.
It could be an interesting offseason for the Hurricanes, who underwent a midseason ownership change that already has resulted in the reassignment of now-former general manager Ron Francis.
Carolina is locked out of the playoffs for the ninth straight season, marking the longest active playoff drought for any NHL team.
Aho said the Hurricanes have been a step behind in recent games against teams vying for playoff spots or postseason positioning.
“I think we weren’t quite there,” Aho said. “I mean, we didn’t have the same level.”
The Hurricanes did have a few uplifting moments this week, including the first goal of the season in 32 games for defenseman Klas Dahlbeck.
“It’s a reward for staying with it, being a good pro [url=http://www.clevelandbrownsteamonline.com/baker-mayfield-jersey]Baker Mayfield Jersey Elite[/url] ,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “Good to see him take advantage of the opportunity.”
Aho scored for the third time six games in Thursday night’s loss at Philadelphia. That puts him with a team-leading 29 goals this season.
The Hurricanes are expected to go with veteran goalie Cam Ward in what could be his final game with the franchise. He has a 22-14-4 record this season.
Tampa Bay won by 5-1 and 5-4 scores against Carolina in previous matchups this season.
The Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff seems to have found a solution to the Los Angeles Angels this weekend, and they will try to keep their offense quiet again in the finale of their four-game series Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
After giving up eight runs in the series-opening loss on Thursday, the Blue Jays have limited Los Angeles to a combined three runs over the past two games.
Toronto (35-41) has been especially tough on Mike Trout, the best hitter for the Angels, who is 1-for-9 in the series with six strikeouts to drop his average to .327.
Luis Valbuena’s third home run of the series in the eighth inning tied the score at 1-1 and ended a scoreless streak of 14 innings for the Angels (41-36), who saw a three-game winning streak stopped.
Steve Pearce answered with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth for Toronto, his second game back after missing seven weeks with an oblique strain.
The starting pitchers for the series finale opened their seasons in the bullpen.
The only difference is Toronto right-hander Sam Gaviglio had experience as a major-league starter last season, while Felix Pena made his first major-league start earlier this week for Los Angeles.
Gaviglio (2-2, 3.75 ERA) will make his seventh straight start after originally moving into the rotation when Marcus Stroman went down with shoulder fatigue in mid-May.
Stroman returned Saturday night and threw five shutout innings [url=http://www.titanscheapstore.com/rashaan-evans-jersey-cheap]Rashaan Evans Jersey[/url] , but fellow starters Aaron Sanchez (right finger contusion) and Jaime Garcia (sore left shoulder) were placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, opening the door for Gaviglio to remain in the rotation.
Gaviglio threw seven shutout innings in a 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees on June 6 but hasn’t gone past the fourth inning in his past two outings.
He allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in four innings on Sunday against the visiting Washington Nationals, but due to official scoring rules, he was ineligible for the win in the 8-6 victory that completed a three-game sweep.
Since his last start, Gaviglio also spent three days on the paternity list to be with his wife, Alaina, for the birth to their first child on Tuesday, a girl.
Gaviglio has made one appearance against the Angels in his career, allowing three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings as a member of the Seattle Mariners last July. The Mariners lost 4-0 and he was traded to the Kansas City Royals later that month.
“He’s never going to wow you with his stuff [url=http://www.cardinalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mason-cole-jersey]Cardinals Mason Cole Jersey[/url] , but he’s a pretty good pitcher,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Sun after Gaviglio’s latest start.
Pena (0-0, 5.40) made 38 career relief appearances before making his first start on Tuesday against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pena allowed one run and two hits in four innings and Los Angeles won 5-4 to end a three-game losing streak.
“Starting isn’t the same as relieving, but I didn’t feel any different,” Pena told MLB.com following his starting debut.
Pena’s only experience against Toronto came when he struck out the side while with the Cincinnati Reds last August.
[url=http://www.officialhockeyusashop.com/minnesota-wild/eric-staal-jersey]Adidas Eric Staal Jersey[/url]
|Free forum by Nabble||Edit this page|