CAROLINA – The Tampa Bay Lightning started the game with three goals in the first period for the second consecutive day, yet the outcome was one to be celebrated in a 5-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday at PNC Arena.
While the three goals did not come from one individual as it did Saturday when Marty St. Louis scored three in a 5-4 loss to San Jose. Instead three rookies, Mark Barberio (first career goal), Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, provided the spark and Teddy Purcell also added a tally to give the Bolts a league-leading eight players on their roster who have reached the 10-goal plateau.
"It has obviously given us a chance to win more games this year," Purcell said. "When you have eight guys in double digits, you have a lot of guys chipping in and that's what good teams do."
The Lightning now boast a 6-1-1 record in the second half of back-to-backs after Sunday's victory, while Ben Bishop faced a season-high 51 shots versus the 'Canes.
"It was big for our team to get this win before we have a few days off," Bishop said. "I felt really good. I wasn't tired at all and you never want to lose back-to-back games, I take pride in that. I wasn't happy with myself last night and I just wanted to come back strong."
Carolina came out with a bit of jump outshooting the Lightning 8-1, but they drew a penalty that gave Tampa Bay momentum early. On the man advantage Barberio was fed a behind-the-back pass from Alex Killorn. Barberio was able find the net for a 1-0 score at 6:09. It was Barberio's first career goal and the Lightning's fifth power-play marker in five games.
"Their player broke his stick and he took off to the bench and it set it up for me back door," Barberio said.
Palat added the Bolts' second of the game less than two minutes later. Tyler Johnson passed the puck from the neutral zone to Martin St. Louis near the right face-off circle in Hurricanes' territory. St. Louis then aimed for Palat down the slot for a 2-0 lead at 7:32. With the primary assist on Palat's tally, St. Louis extended his point streak to eight games (eight goals, four assists).
A third-straight goal from a rookie followed at 15:07 of the opening period. This time Kucherov was credited, which ended goaltender Justin Peters' night in favor of Anton Khudobin.
Purcell took advantage of a delayed penalty on the 'Canes just 24 seconds into the middle frame for a 4-0 lead, but Carolina then scored two unanswered goals.
The first came from Alexander Semin, who was allowed too much room as he zoomed down the left-side boards of the offensive zone and finished with a wrister on the power play. Eric Staal then stripped J.P. Cote of the puck in the neutral zone to score an unassisted goal on Bishop glove side. The two goals came in a span of 3:54.
Yet Barberio not only tallied his first NHL goal, but his second to help Tampa Bay nurse a three-goal lead at the end of two. His shot deflected off of Andrej Sekera's stick at 8:12 for a 5-2 game. Barberio's two goals gave the blueliner his first career multi-point game as well.
Just after Carolina registered their 40th shot on goal with a little less than 15 minutes to play, the Hurricanes' Ron Hainsey recorded their 41st and third goal of the game at 6:14 of the third off of a rebound that bounced off Ben Bishop's mask. It was not enough though, despite registering 51 shots on goal in the loss.
UP NEXT – The Lightning return to Tampa Bay Sunday night and will exercise an off-day Monday and return to the ice for practice Tuesday. They will then have another day of rest Wednesday, before playing games Thursday against the Ottawa Senators and Saturday versus the Colorado Avalanche both at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.