TAMPA – It took a new season high in shots, but the Tampa Bay Lightning remained vigilant in a 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“Taking 50 shots to win was less frustrating to me then getting 20 shots total,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “I would rather get the 50 shots and ultimately look and say the goalie flat out beat us than sit here and say we just beat ourselves. Sometimes this is going to happen, this is the National Hockey League.”
Not only did Tampa Bay rack-up 50 shots through 62:16 of play, but they also recorded a new season-high 19 shots in the first period alone.
Carolina netminder, Justin Peters, was named the first star in the contest, and much like Bolts’ goaltender Ben Bishop has done all season, he allowed the Hurricanes to walk away with at least one point.
“I got to tip my hat to [Peters],” Cooper said. “I coached against him in the American Hockey League and he was a pain in the butt then and now he’s a pain in the butt in the NHL. He was outstanding tonight.”
Jiri Tlusty opened up scoring for the Hurricanes at 4:35 of the opening frame with a wrist shot from the left point. The tally was the first shot on goal for Carolina in the game, which stood for nearly 10 minutes of play. After controlling play for a majority of the first though, the Bolts were finally rewarded when Victor Hedman tied the game at one with a sharp-angled shot from the left circle at 16:12 to end scoring in the first.
Midway through the middle period Brett Bellemore went to the penalty box for holding the stick for the Hurricanes. Then on the power play Valtteri Filppula was robbed when Peters made a glove save on his one-timer in front of the net. The play immediately went the other way as Tlusty scored his second goal of the night on a shorthanded breakaway through Bishop’s legs at 10:11 of the second.
The Lightning continued to be baffled by Peters as Filppula was once again shorted on nearly the same shot. Referees quickly reviewed the play to see if the Carolina netminder’s glove had already passed the goal line, but the no-goal call stood. Play ended with Tampa Bay ahead in shots 32-18, despite trailing 2-1.
Martin St. Louis scored the game-tying goal midway through the third period for a 2-2 score. Hedman took a shot from the top of the slot, which St. Louis managed to tip past Peters on the power play at 7:56.
“It’s always a lot of fun to contribute on both ends of the ice,” Hedman said. “From training camp it’s been about five guys on defense, five guys on offense. The defense got two goals tonight and we need to keep that going.”
St. Louis’ goal stood as the final goal of the period sending the game into overtime. In the extra frame blueliner Radko Gudas layed a hard check on Jeff Skinner, who lost his stick and left Gudas to lead a rush into Carolina’s zone. He then lasered a shot past Peters for the game-winning goal 2:16 into overtime.
“[Jeff Skinner’s] a good player I’m just lucky he didn’t turn and hit me,” Gudas said. “I closed my eyes for a second, we were 2-on-1 and I wasn’t 100-percent sure if I could make the pass, so I decided to shoot and it went in.”
“He’s got a rocket for a shot,” Cooper said. “He made the big defensive play - he hit Skinner and Skinner dropped the stick, so Skinner’s kind of useless on the backcheck with no stick , then we got the 2-on-1 and he finished it off, so it was a pretty exciting moment for him, ourselves and the however so many people were in the building.”
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay is slated to practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Sunday and will immediately hit the road for Sunrise, Florida following practice. Monday’s 7:30 p.m. tilt will be the Lightning’s last game before the Christmas break. They will then resume play next weekend with back-to-back contests at home Saturday and Sunday.
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