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Aho powers Hurricanes past Bolts in game 3

After winning games 1 and 2 on the road, the Tampa Bay Lightning returned home to Amalie Arena looking to take a commanding 3-0 lead against the Carolina Hurricanes in round 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canes were in an early hole and looking for a spark. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour decided to make a goalie change. Alex Ndeljkovic was benched in favor of Petr Mrazek.

The temperature begins to rise

The opening minutes of game 3 saw a defensive struggle in the neutral zone. Neither team generated any real chances until around the midway point of the period. It wasn’t until a 2 on 1 chance from Barclay Goodrow and Victor Hedman that either team gained momentum. Goodrow fed Hedman who was entering late on the rush. However, Hedman could not convert on a clean look. The Lightning continued the pressure with chances from Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, and Steven Stamkos unable to beat Mrazek.

Though most of the period was quiet and mild tempered, things started to intensify in the late minutes. After a hard hit on Sebastian Aho by Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov delivered a hit of his own to Brett Pesce which resulted in an interference penalty. Pesce took exception to the hit and attempted to retaliate on Kucherov, knocking a linesman to the ice in the process. With tempers flaring, the Bolts penalty kill was successful in its first test. As a result, the teams went into intermission locked in a scoreless tie.

Pesce and Aho break through, Lightning come roaring back

Remember those hits on Pesce and Aho mentioned above? Well, in a display of poetic justice, it just so happened to be those 2 Hurricanes players that broke through in the second period. First, Pesce buried a one timer on a set up from Andrei Svechnikov at 5:15. Then, 2 minutes later, Aho benefited from a lucky stretch pass tip and found himself 1 on 1 with Andrei Vasilevskiy. Aho converted his breakaway through the 5 hole and put Carolina ahead 2-0.

Less than a minute after Aho’s goal, he found himself sitting in the penalty box for a retaliation cross check on Ondrej Palat. Tampa Bay made the most of their first power play opportunity. After some great puck movement, Steven Stamkos fed a pass across to Nikita Kucherov at the right circle. With Mrazek pulling to Kucherov’s side, Brayden Point was out in front staring down a wide open net. Kucherov immediately dished the Stamkos pass to Point who fired it home to get the Lightning on the board.

The Bolts power play, however, was not finished for the period. With Brady Skjei in the box for hooking Blake Coleman, Alex Killorn knotted the score at 2-2. Kucherov, controlling a rebound of his own shot, fed Killorn in the slot who ripped home a snap shot past Mrazek. The goal electrified Amalie Arena and set the tone for a thrilling finish.

Overtime needed and Aho strikes again

For the second consecutive playoff series, Tampa Bay held a 2-0 series lead after opening up on the road. And, for the second consecutive playoff series, Tampa Bay found itself in a game 3 overtime at home. After a mostly non eventful 18 minutes in the third period, the Lightning closed regulation time on a power play. This was a result of Dougie Hamilton receiving a questionable tripping call against Alex Killorn. The Bolts had 1:07 of power play time to end the third period, but could not convert this chance as they had done with the first 2.

Overtime began with Tampa Bay finishing the remaining 53 second of power play times. Mrazek continued to stand tall against some good Lightning chances, and Carolina successfully killed the penalty.

At 4:16, the Canes earned a power play of their own in what appeared to be a makeup call for the penalty against Hamilton. The Lightning did a great job during the first 90 seconds of the penalty kill, even generating a few shorthanded chances. But, the Carolina power play unit was able to get setup in the last 30 seconds and Jordan Staal redirected a Sebastian Aho one-timer to clinch game 3 for the Hurricanes.

The loss guarantees a Lightning return trip to Raleigh for game 5 next Tuesday night. Up next, game 4 is scheduled for Saturday, June 5th at 4:00PM from Amalie Arena.

 

3 Stars of the game

  1. Sebastian Aho – 1 G, 2 A – Game winning assist on his one-timer in overtime
  2. Petr Mrazek – 35/37 Saves
  3. Brayden Point – 1 G, 1 A

 

 

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