Losing streak is finally over thanks to the top line taking charge of the offense and getting revenge on the Hurricanes in a 4-0 victory to end the road trip. In the previous meeting between the two teams Carolina dominated with a 6-0 blowout. This time around it was the Lightning’s turn to turn the page. Playing against a division leader is never easy especially when they are capable of shutting down your top players. Instead, Lightning played a mean and aggressive game that led to total control of the ice. Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos stole the show along with Nikita Kucherov whom all had a bone to pick with this Carolina squad. Andrei Vasilevskiy remained perfect in net helping the Bolts get back to winning ways and one step closer to clinching a playoff berth.
Rough start yields no goals
Starting off, Lightning were sluggish with moving the puck giving Carolina ample time in Tampa’s zone. Carolina’s pressure was fierce, but the defense of the Lightning held them in check. Then, Tampa was finally able to counter a few minutes in but were stopped short. What looked like a 2-on-1 opportunity was nullified by a hustle from Carolina’s defenders. Afterwards, Lightning began to move the puck better and as a result finally started to apply pressure on net. Hurricanes continued to keep the puck going maintaining a fast-paced game with half the period finished.
Finding their rhythm
At this point it was clear this game would be a defensive battle as if it were the playoffs. A giveaway by Steven Stamkos nearly lead to a goal, but Vasilevskiy was able to stop the shot from Brady Skjei. Following, Lightning then had their best chance of the period after a shot by Brandon Hagle nearly found its way past Pytor Kochetkov. Bolts continued applying the pressure yet could not figure out Kochetkov. Despite the slow start at the beginning of the game Tampa was able to wake up as the period went on. Final minute of the period was frantic with both teams exchanging quality shots on net with no goals to be had.
Captain breaks the silence
To begin, Ross Colton nearly scored in the opening seconds, but the puck rung off the post with no rebound chance to be had. Four minutes into the period Lightning received the first power play of the night after Steven Stamkos was hit with a hi-stick. Hurricanes nearly scored shorthanded, but Vasy was able to make the save. Penalty was killed off with no damage done as the game continued to be scoreless. However, the game was not scoreless for much longer thanks to Steven Stamkos. He opened up the scoring to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Soon after, Alex Killorn was called for roughing giving the Hurricanes their first chance on the man advantage. With the way Tampa has been playing it was clear ending the losing streak was on their mind as the night went on.
Just what we like to see from the Cap 🤩 pic.twitter.com/SrnksuSPF3
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 29, 2023
Top line keeps delivering
Continuing the pressure was the Lightning offense as it seems the ice was tilted in their favor. Carolina began to struggle to get possession of the puck much like the Lightning did in the opening frame. Maintaining the lead will not be easy against this Hurricanes team despite how well Tampa continued to play. As a result, Bolts added to their lead keeping the momentum going in their favor. Darren Raddysh forced Carolina to attempt a defensive play that allowed Tampa to bank the puck in. Brayden Point scored his 46th goal of the season to extend the lead 2-0 with just over 5 minutes to go in the second period.
Aggresive plays lead to tensions rising
Tempers flared as the period began to wind down after Stefan Noesen and Nick Paul collided while fighting for the puck. Noesen stayed down on the ice for a bit but was able to get back up, get to the bench, and finally went into the locker room. Hurricanes did not take kindly to collision which resulted in Sebastian Aho making contact with Vasilevsiky. Aho goes to the box for goaltender inference but get a power play out of it. Anthony Cirelli was called for a double minor and was not happy about it. Everyone was confused as to what had occurred and why Cirelli was given a double minor.
Keeping control of the game
Third period began with Carolina on the power play for another 1:03. Lightning killed off the double minor to Cirelli keeping the 2-0 lead. With ending the slump in sight, Tampa played a conservative game hoping to prevent the Hurricanes from scoring. Obviously, Carolina would continue their aggressive play to try and answer Vasilevskiy. Noesen still did not return to the bench meaning Carolina would play with only 11 forwards for the rest of the game. With half the period gone neither team could add to the scoring.
Losing streak is no more
Shots on net were in favor of Carolina with 7 shots to Tampa’s 2. Clearly, Bolts did not care about being out shot as they continued to add to the lead. Point scored his second of the game to extend the lead 3-0. The puck went in and out so fast that at first the official did not think it went in. For Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, it would be their second points of the night as the stars finally shined bright. With 6 minutes to go Carolina pulled Kochetkov as they were desperate for a goal. This gave Tampa a perfect chance to seal the deal.
File under things we love to see ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/AudPFf7gOz
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 29, 2023
Getting closer to clinching
Alex Killorn scored on the open net to give the Lightning a commanding 4-0 lead. At this rate there was nothing Carolina could do. The damage was already done and Vasy remained stellar in net. In conclusion, the slump finally ended as the Lightning took control of the game in the second period and never let it go. A season high four game regulation losing streak was finally broken thanks to the top line commanding the offense in a 4-0 victory. Only 4 points are now needed to finally clinch yet another playoff berth.
Three stars of the game
1st Star: Brayden Point – 2 goals and 1 assist
2nd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – 3rd shutout of the season
3rd Star: Steven Stamkos – 1 goal and 2 assists
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