Lightning Can't Stop Hurricanes
Late Goal Sinks Bolts, 3-2
The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped a 3-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes, with the decisive blow coming with less than two minutes to play.
The Hurricanes are proving to be a formidable obstacle for the Lightning. Tonight’s loss marks the fourth time this year that the Lightning have fallen to Carolina, and each time the margin was only one goal. The defeat also stopped the Lightning winning streak at three.
Tampa Bay began the game aggressively; less than a minute after the puck dropped in period one, Martin St. Louis
broke in on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and delivered a powerful slapshot which Ward gloved. Although it wasn’t apparent at the time, that save set the tone for the night as Ward was able to stop almost everything the Lightning were able to generate, finishing with 27 saves.
The Lightning got on the scoreboard first at 16:55, when Mark Recchi pounced on a Carolina turnover in front of the Hurricanes net and scored his 11th goal of the season, unassisted.
“It was a fluky turnover in front of the net,” Recchi said. “I picked it up and beat Ward on his stick side.”
That was the only goal scored in period one, although the Lightning had to kill off two shorthanded situations as Evgeny Artyukhin added four to bring his team leading penalty minute total to 73.
The Lightning got an opportunity with the extra attacker early in period two when Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu was called for high-sticking. Going into tonight’s game, the Hurricanes were the only team in the NHL without a shorthanded goal, but they erased that distinction when Chad Larose flipped a wrist shot past Lightning netminder Mike Smith
at 5:34 to tie the score a 1-1.
Although the Lightning outshot Carolina in the second period, 12-7, it was the Hurricanes gaining the advantage when Matt Cullen was able to sneak the puck past Smith, coming around from behind the net on the netminder’s glove side, at 18:36 of the period, making the score 2-1 in Carolina’s favor.
Tampa Bay battled back in the third period, tying the score when Ryan Malone
tipped in a cross-ice pass from Mark Recchi for his 15th goal of the season. Steve Downie
also assisted on Malone’s goal.
With overtime looming, Carolina applied pressure late in the period and a loose puck ended up on the stick of Eric Staal, standing just outside the crease to Smith’s left. The puck didn’t remain on his stick for long, however, as Staal put it in the Lightning net for the winning goal.
Although tonight’s loss dropped the Lightning to nine points behind the Hurricanes in the Southeast Division, Tampa Bay will have little time to dwell on it, as they return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers Friday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
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