Marc-Andre Bergeron made sure a late scoring flurry by the Carolina Hurricanes amounted to just a tie game at the end of regulation and nothing more.
Bergeron scored the game-winning goal at 1:32 of overtime after taking a pass at the right circle from Sean Bergenheim to help the Tampa Bay Lightning rebound from blowing a late-two goal lead as they defeated their division rival 4-3 on Saturday night.
“Bergie did a tremendous job along the wall to get a rush up the ice,” Bergeron said. “He made a good play, a good pass, and I just tried to put the shot on net and it went in.”
Carolina tied it 3-3 on a pair of late goals by Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole after goalie Cam Ward was sent to the Hurricanes bench for an extra skater.
Bergenheim added a goal for the second consecutive game and put the Lightning up 3-1 with under a minute left in regulation before the Hurricanes notched two in a span of 19 seconds to send the contest into the extra session.
After Skinner scored his 21st of the season with 51.1 seconds left, Cole drew Carolina even with 32.9 seconds left when a shot deflected off his leg in the slot.
“We were trying to play a desperate brand and continue to move forward and push,” Cole said. “I think we knew from the All-Star break that our brand had to be playoff style.”
“It would have been frustrating to lose a game like that,” Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier added. “But we rallied again and we’ve been doing that all year. Obviously we didn’t want to give them the last two goals, but it definitely wasn’t a lack of effort. We were relentless.”
“We had a lot of guys play really well tonight,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “It was a real team effort and I am happy about this performance.”
Roloson played nearly 30 minutes of shutout hockey until Eric Staal spoiled the net minder’s shutout bid with the man advantage at 9:08 of the second period. He cut the Hurricanes’ deficit in half with a wrist shot from above the right circle that hopped off the blade of Roloson’s blocker before finding its way into the net.
Bergenheim’s 11th of the season at 12:48 of the final period put the Lightning up 3-1.
Carolina has yet to win a game since returning from the All-Star break on Feb. 1. The Hurricanes have lost three straight and are 1-3-2 in their last six games.
Cam Ward stopped 37 shots, but yielded the game’s opening goal to Downie at 4:26 of the second period. Lecavalier doubled the lead on the power play at 7:41, giving him goals in three straight games.
Both sides generated plenty of chances to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes, as the Lightning held a 15-12 shot advantage over the Hurricanes at the end of the first period.
Still, neither side was able to create much momentum in the opening frame, which was hampered by nine penalties that factored into the difficulty of setting the tempo of play just one night following a melee between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.
“With everything happening in the league right now, I’m sure there was a memo sent to all the referees,” Bergeron said. “It was fine though, we just had to get used to it and play smart.”
Tampa Bay did, killing off seven of eight opposing power plays throughout the night, while converting on just one of five of its own.
“I think Tampa Bay was the only team in the league to have scored more goals than us on the power play,” Carolina head coach Paul Maurice said. “Although you may not have been able to tell that tonight.”
Tampa Bay improved to 13-4-0 in its last 17 games at home.
Steven Stamkos added an assist on Downie’s opening goal to give him five assists and six points during a three-game point streak.
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