Lightning Blown Off-Course By Hurricanes, 4-1
Penalty Trouble in Third Sinks Bolts
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center tonight in Raleigh by a score of 4-1.
Despite setting some season lows in shots-on-goal, the Lightning were in the game until the middle of the third period, when the officials whistled three straight minor penalties on Tampa Bay in the span 67 seconds.
Throughout the first period, both clubs showed the effects of having played tough games just the night before. Carolina produced 14 shots on net in period one, but nothing that proved particularly taxing to Tampa Bay’s starting goalie, Mike McKenna, until Hurricane forward Eric Staal’s shot from a sharp angle to McKenna’s right beat the netminder to the far side of the net.
The Lightning, meanwhile, were held without a shot on goal until only 5:42 seconds remained in the period when Gary Roberts had a scoring chance from just outside the Carolina goal crease. Hurricane netminder Cam Ward made the stop, and then had little else to do except watch the action as that was the only shot on goal for Tampa Bay in the period. The one shot on net for the period was the lowest total in a period this season for Tampa Bay.
Still, as they left the ice after the first stanza, the Lightning only trailed Carolina by 1-0.
Vaclav Prospal tied the score at 1:53 of the second period when he collected a pass from forward Jeff Halpern and beat Ward with a shot from the high slot. For Prospal, the goal was number 14 on the season.
Although Tampa Bay continued to be outshot by the Hurricanes, it’s the scoreboard that ultimately counts, and the second period continued with the score tied 1-1 and the Lightning within striking distance of taking the lead.
But the striking distance got further away for the Bolts when former Lightning forward Jussi Jokinen converted a turnover at 14:30 for his first goal since Tampa Bay shipped him to the Hurricanes in a trade on February 7th.
Tampa Bay entered the third period trailing 2-1, and McKenna’s sprawling save on a Clad Larose breakaway attempt early in the stanza kept the Lightning in the game until the official’s whistle took them out of it.
The parade to the penalty box began at 2:04 with David Koci called for roughing, and continued 17 seconds later when Matt Smaby
joined him for cross checking. When Jeff Halpern was added for slashing, the penalty box reached maximum capacity and Carolina had a 5-on-3 for 1:56, during which defenseman Joseph Corvo scored two power play goals 39 seconds apart, the first from the top of the right faceoff circle and another from the top of the left.
Those two scores broke the game open, 4-1, and despite the fact that the next two penalties were called on Carolina, it was too late for Tampa Bay to fight their way back.
McKenna continued to play well in net, making a highlight-reel glove save on Ray Whitney late in the third period; but by then the Hurricanes had feasted on the power play, finishing with 2 goals on 6 attempts.
Even though Tampa Bay ended the contest outshot 41-13, a season-low for shots-on-goal in a game for the Lightning, the Bolts continued to dominate in hits, producing 35, including five each by Evengy Artyukhin and Gary Roberts.
The loss stretched Tampa Bay’s winless streak to four games and the road ahead is a challenge, as they return to the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday to face the team with the best record in the entire NHL, the Boston Bruins.
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