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Vasilevskiy shuts the door again as Bolts take 2-0 series lead over Canes

Coming off a 2-1 win in Game 1 over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed to continue pushing the momentum over a dangerous Carolina team that continued to press until the final horn of the series’ first game. Fortunately for the Lightning, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy helped slam the door shut, making 37 saves in that series-opening win.

In Game 2, the Lightning needed Vasilevskiy’s stellar goaltending even more, as the Hurricanes held a 32-15 shot advantage. Despite being out-shot by more than a 2-to-1 margin, Vasilevskiy slammed the door shut on Carolina once again. Along with a couple of timely goals from Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli, that was enough to give the Lightning another 2-1 victory in Raleigh. Tampa Bay now returns to Amalie Arena for Games 3 and 4 with their second straight 2-0 series lead in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Lightning welcomed the return of Erik Cernak to the lineup, but remained without David Savard, who is expected back again at some point this series.

Setting Up Offense Equals Stalemate for Both Teams

With no score in the first period, both teams ran into obstacles, including so-so puck management and over-passing leading to offside calls and broken-up passes. Even with a handful of scoring opportunities for both Carolina and Tampa Bay, both goaltenders and defensemen stood strong, with the front of the net controlled on both ends. Even with no goals, Tampa Bay showed themselves as the more confident team. Killorn took a late penalty that led to a Carolina power play that carried over into the second period.

Killorn Opens Up Momentum After Lackluster First

In the waning seconds of the Hurricanes’ power play, Tampa Bay efficiently killed all scoring opportunities.

A two-on-one with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat led to a close opportunity, with a pass just missed by Palat.

A slashing call was called on Sebastian Aho shortly after, leading to Tampa Bay’s first power play. The first half of the two-minute minor showed some hope, with the Bolts meshing offensively. The last minute, however, proved ineffective for Tampa Bay.

At 12:51 of the second, Killorn let a wrister loose near the blue-line, finding the net with the help of Cirelli’s perfectly timed screen and Steven Stamkos’s assist, putting the Lightning up 1-0.

Vasilevskiy closes the door early and often

Carolina responded with a flurry of opportunities in Tampa’s zone, but Vasilevskiy controlled everything between the pipes. Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic also stood strong, shutting down a breakaway from Nikita Kucherov with 6:45 left in the second period.

Physicality was lacking for both teams, with very few scrums around the net and unfinished checks by both teams. Jan Rutta had a promising slap shot bounce off the crossbar. Shortly after, Vincent Trocheck was penalized for tripping Kucherov, giving Tampa Bay their second power play. The Canes killed the penalty, even creating a great opportunity while shorthanded.

The period ended with the score remaining 1-0, leading to a massive third period opportunity for Tampa Bay to go up 2-0 in the series.

Carolina forward Vincent Trocheck left the ice favoring his leg after a collision with a fellow Hurricane and did not return.

Despite a tense final few minutes, Tampa Bay holds off Carolina

Pat Maroon received a minor penalty for high-sticking at 17:15. The Hurricanes looked to capitalize on the man-advantage. Again, the Bolts killed the penalty, clearing the puck multiple times to stifle Carolina’s power play effort.

At 11:54 of the third, Victor Hedman sent a stretch-pass to Cirelli. He then fought off Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei to capitalize on a beautiful backhand, beating Nedeljkovic for his third goal of the playoffs. With a 2-0 lead, tempers started to flare, with Carolina’s desperation blooming at the nine-minute mark.

In the final five minutes of the third period, the Bolts retained control until 1:30 remained, finally allowing Carolina to pull the goalie, which led to Andrei Svechnikov snaking one through Vasilevskiy to spoil the shutout bid. The Hurricanes won the face-off at center ice, allowing for an empty net once more.

Up a man, Carolina controlled the puck in Tampa Bay’s zone. Vasilevskiy and a mountain of defensemen stone-walled Carolina’s scoring attempts, giving Tampa Bay the win and a crucial 2-o lead in the series.

Our Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Stopped 31 of 32 shots

2nd Star: Alex Killorn – One goal

3rd Star: Anthony Cirelli – Game-winning goal

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