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Goaltending thrives as Bolts knock out Hurricanes in Game 5

Thanks to stellar goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Tampa Bay Lightning finished off the Hurricanes and advanced to the NHL Semifinals. Carolina made yet another change in net back to Alex Nedeljkovic for Game 5 and defense played a big factor in tonight’s tilt. Tampa looked to take control of the game and never looked back in knocking the Hurricanes out of the playoffs.

A goaltending battle

As expected, neither team wasted any time trying to get the offense rolling in Game 5. Just 1:16 into the game, the Lightning received their fist power play of the night. Carolina killed off the penalty with ease and nearly scored after the power play was over. Minutes later, the Hurricanes got their first chance on the man-advantage and looked to open up the scoring. Tampa developed a 2-on-1 opportunity, but Victor Hedman’s pass was intercepted by Nino Niederreiter. Tampa’s penalty kill was successful and the game remained scoreless. After a couple of saves from Vasilevskiy, the game became a bit chippy as Blake Coleman and Brady Skjei were sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Four-on-four hockey followed suit, but neither team was able to score. Ondrej Palat nearly scored with just under eight minutes to go in the period, but Nedeljkovic remained stellar in net. At this point, the game looked to be a battle of goaltenders. The remainder of the period was just that as neither goalie gave up a goal. Both sides had ample amount of scoring chances but the goaltenders refused to yield. A scrum occurred after the final whistle and penalties would be given out heading into the second period.

Bolts open the scoring

The second period started off with more 4-on-4 hockey due to the scrum at the end of the first period. Yanni Gourde nearly opened up the scoring after the penalties expired, but with the help of a defender, Nedeljkoivc was able to nab the puck. On the ensuing faceoff Tampa went back on the power play when Maroon was interfered with. Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck nearly scored shorthanded at the beginning of the power play, but Vasy was able to stop the shot. Alex Killorn then nabbed the puck from the Carolina defense and fed the puck to Brayden Point. Point then perfectly set up the shot and fired it top shelf to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead. Ross Colton nearly added to the lead, but the shot went off the post and out of harm’s way.

Minutes after the goal, Carolina went back on the power play when Palat was called for hooking.  Tampa once again killed off the penalty and the score remained 1-0 Bolts. Tampa Bay took control of the game following the penalty kill and looked to add to their lead. Dougie Hamilton tried to tie the game, but Mikhail Sergachev dropped low to block the shot. The Hurricanes thought they had the equalizer after a textbook passing play, but Nikita Kucherov sacrificed his body to block it. Just as time expired, Erik Cernak drilled the puck into the net, but there was not enough time on the clock for it to count. The score remained 1-0 heading into the third period.

Clinching the series

Early in the period, Tampa Bay had the perfect scoring chance, but Hamilton prevented the pass from connecting. Regardless, the Lightning looked to keep the momentum going and prevent Carolina from getting back in the game. Maroon tried for a wraparound shot that was denied by Nedeljkoivc, who also stopped Point from scoring his second goal of the game. Nedeljkoivc continued to be stellar in net, negating yet another breakaway this time from Tyler Johnson with Colton nearby providing support. Tampa Bay remained resilient and looked to seal the win and series by keeping the Hurricanes’ defense busy. Cernak caused a turnover, allowing Colton a rush down the right wing, and this time he would capitalize on it. Colton beat Nedeljkovic to the short side to extend the Bolts’ lead to 2-0 with just about half the period remaining.

With 7:10 to go, Palat laid an illegal check to the head on Brett Pesce, giving the Hurricanes a crucial power play. It was a power play the Bolts had to kill in order to keep control of the game, which they did kill off. Only 2:50 remained in regulation when Carolina pulled their goalie for the extra attacker in hopes of clawing back into the game, but to no avail. Carolina could not find an answer to Vasilevskiy, and the Bolts moved on with the 2-0 win. The goaltending from both ends of the ice had a solid night, but Vasilevskiy played the better game, resulting in the shutout victory, the third straight time that the Lightning have clinched a series with a shutout. Tampa Bay awaits their opponent as the New York Islanders currently lead their series over the Boston Bruins 3-2.

 

Three stars of the game

1st Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Saved all 25 shots for the shutout

2nd Star: Brayden Point – One goal

3rd Star: Ross Colton – One goal

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