Lightning Fall to Hurricanes
Prospal Gets 400th Assist in Loss
The good news for Tampa Bay? They’ve seen the last of the Carolina Hurricanes and forward Eric Staal for this season. And none too soon, as the Lightning fell to Carolina tonight, 9-3, at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Carolina got all nine goals in the first two periods, including four goals by Staal; the first time in his career that he scored four in a game.
The Hurricanes got the proceedings underway at 7:01, when Rod Brind’Amour stole the puck at the Hurricane blueline while the Lightning were on a power play. Brind’Amour cruised into the Tampa Bay zone and sent a centering pass to Staal, skating down the slot. The shorthanded goal was the Staal’s first of the evening as he cleanly beat Lightning starting goaltender Mike McKenna.
Goal number two and three followed soon after and by 10:09 of the first, Carolina had a three goal advantage, all scored within just over three minutes, and McKenna, who faced 7 shots, was on the bench in favor of Karri Ramo.
Tampa Bay came back to get one score before the period ended when Martin St. Louis
slipped behind the Carolina defense and converted a perfect pass from rookie Steven Stamkos
for his 24th goal of the season. Paul Szczechura
also assisted on the goal which closed the scoring for period one, and closed the gap to 3-1 after the first stanza.
Period two, however, was all Carolina as they scored six unanswered goals, included two by Tuomo Ruutu and two additional by Staal, along with scores by Brind’Amour and Joseph Corvo to open up a 9-1 scoring advantage.
At the start of period three, McKenna returned to the Lightning net, replacing Ramo, who had allowed six goals on 22 shots on net. McKenna faced eight shots in period three but held Carolina scoreless.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was able to put together two nice goals in the final stanza to cut into the Carolina lead. Early in the period, Vincent Lecavalier
scored his team-leading 28th goal on the season, assisted by Ryan Malone
and Vaclav Prospal.
At 9:12, Malone took a pass from Prospal as he cut down the slot and beat Hurricane goaltender Cam Ward for his 23rd goal of the season. Prospal’s assist on the play was the 400th of his career and Lecavalier also was credited with an assist, his second point of the game.
For Carolina, the win meant a sweep of the six-game series with Tampa Bay this season.
Tampa Bay had 21 hits on the game, led by Evengy Artyukhin with five.
The Lightning, having concluded their three-game homestand tonight, will have a few days to regroup before heading out on the road.
They open their road swing Wednesday night in Ottawa against the Senators and then move on to meet the Toronto Maple Leafs, before facing the Florida Panthers in Sunrise on Friday night.
|Three star selections