The Tampa Bay Lightning outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in Raleigh Monday evening. Tampa was finally broke a scoreless drought that lasted over two games against Carolina. In addition, they played sound defensively backstopped by a great performance by Vasilevskiy. Overall it was a significantly better performance than on Saturday.
Drought aside, the Lightning came into the matchup with Carolina talking about playing with urgency. They backed up every word of it right off the drop of the puck. Tampa Bay dominated the first period. They were quick on pucks, won battles, and their passing was crisp. They were able gain speed through the neutral zone to get in on the forecheck and keep the Hurricanes pinned in their own zone. Time of possession wasn’t even close. It forced Carolina into penalty trouble, which increased Tampa’s scoring opportunities even more. Shots on goal were 11-1 at one point in the period. The Lightning did everything but score.
At 11:22 of the first Steven Stamkos was called for a slashing penalty. After a rough 20 second start Tampa Bay was able to regain their structure and kept the Hurricanes out of the zone for the most part. Blake Coleman even got a shorthanded opportunity. However, despite killing off the the penalty on the scoreboard, the Lightning were not able to clear. Subsequently, five seconds after the powerplay had expired a shot from Martin Necas bounced off the chest of Andrei Vasilevskiy and right to the stick of Jesper Fast for an easy goal. Carolina would play better after the opening tally, but it did not change the outlook of the frame. Despite a dominate performance, Tampa’s scoring drought against Carolina would continue.
Despite being down 1-0, the Lightning seemed to go right back to work. This work payed off as Sebastian Aho took a penalty to prevent a scoring opportunity just 39 seconds into the period. After struggling to get into zone, late in the powerplay the Lightning would finally convert. Stamkos was able to sneak one past James Riemer from his normal spot. This goal ended a scoring drought against Carolina that stretched back to January 28th. In total it lasted 143:28 minutes played. With the seal busted Victor Hedman would add one 5 mintues later. Off a Faceoff win Mikhail Sergachev was ab;le to slide it over to Hedman at the circle who sent a laser bar-down and in.
Despite allowing two goals, Carolina played much better in the second. They were able to establish themselves in the offensive zone as well as slowing down the Lightning’s speed through the neutral zone. Tampa defended well but Hedman took a holding call late in the period. With 44 seconds left Brett Pesce fired a shot from the point and the rebounding bounced right to Fast who was speeding in from the wing. He was able to whack at it and roofed it to tie the game at 2. It was clear that the Hurricanes were not going to go down without a fight.
Lightning pull away.
The third period was much like the second, in that it was pretty evenly played. Both teams defended well and were still able to some opportunities offensively. However, it was Tampa Bay that got the more dangerous opportunities and were able to break the tie. Ondrej Palat made a nifty drag move down low and was able to bring it in front where his shot bounced off the skate of a defender and in. Carolina would push back but Tampa Bay’s defense did a nice job of keeping them to the outside and limiting grade-A chances. Alex Killorn would add the empty netter to but a bow on the win.
Overall, it was a much better effort than Saturday’s game. Although they did not play bad two nights ago, the Lightning played with a purpose this evening, and it showed up on the scoresheet. The team will travel back to Tampa for two more games against the Hurricanes on Wednesday and Thursday.
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