The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly revealed their trademarked relentless style of play on Friday night, even if they took a little while to show it.
Photos: Lightning at Carolina
Video: Game Highlights
Video: Stamkos Post-Game
Video: 10 Seconds, 2 Goals
Video: Lecavalier Goal
Tampa Bay scored two third-period goals 10 seconds apart to blow open a one-goal game and Dwayne Roloson made 32 saves as the Lightning came from behind to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in the season opener at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
“For us, we wanted to go out and focus on the things we needed to do to win a hockey game,” Roloson said. “We were a little sluggish at the beginning, but we weathered the storm and were able to come away with a win.”
The win improved Tampa Bay’s all-time record in season-opening games to 11-6-2. For Carolina, the new season began in exactly the same manner the last one ended – with a loss to the Lightning.
Goals by Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier erased an early one-goal deficit and put the Lightning up 2-1 when Hurricanes captain Eric Staal went to the penalty box after being called for interference at 10:29 of the final period.
With just seconds remaining on the power play, Steve Downie got his first of the season after deflecting a point shot from Marc-Andre Bergeron at 12:22. Then, 10 seconds later, Adam Hall took advantage of a breakdown in the Carolina defense off the ensuing faceoff and finished off a pass from Nate Thompson with an easy wrist shot over the glove of Hurricanes net minder Cam Ward to make it 4-1.
The game’s first 25 minutes told a different story however.
After having its season end at the hands of the Lightning last season, Carolina came out looking like a team out for retribution.
The Hurricanes found themselves in full control through the first period, holding a 16-12 shot advantage over the Bolts and controlling puck possession deep in the Lightning’s defensive zone.
The strategy paid off early.
Jeff Skinner gave Carolina a 1-0 lead after collecting a rebound from the low slot and wristing one past Roloson at 8:07. With a delayed call coming on Lightning defenseman Brett Clark, the Hurricane forward fired one into an open net after Roloson made an initial pad save on Tim Gleason’s shot from above the right circle.
“We made a few mistakes in that first period,” Lecavalier said. “They took advantage of them.”
Despite a heavy barrage of offense by Carolina to open the second period, Roloson made a number of saves, often in succession, to keep the deficit at one.
The sequence seemed to spark his teammates, as the Lightning strung together five consecutive goals to put the game out of reach.
Ryan Malone added an insurance goal and closed out the scoring at 16:58 for Tampa Bay, who won the first game of a season-opening five-game trip that continues Saturday night with a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston.
Following a lengthy playoff run in which the Bolts pushed the Bruins to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, head coach Guy Boucher was quick to dismiss any notion of his team living up to high expectations based on its success last spring.
“We’re certainly going to fight those expectations,” Boucher said. “I thought last season was a good first step in the process, but now that’s over and we’re going to move forward in continuing that process here tonight. We’re going to be a good team on the ice, we’re going to be very competitive and we’re going to put on a good show for our fans defined by our work ethic.”
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