TAMPA, Fla. - Winning their fifth consecutive game against the Carolina Hurricanes and posting their second win in two nights, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored a 5-1 road victory on Thursday night. Vaclav Prospal scored one goal and two assists and Shane O’Brien notched a pair of goals to lead the Lightning to the win.
Vincent Lecavalier and Michel Ouellet also recorded multi-point nights in the contest as Johan Holmqvist made 40 saves for his sixth win of the season.
Improving to 2-1 in the second half of back-to-back games this season, the Lightning put early pressure on their Southeast Division rivals and Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward was called upon to make a handful of saves. After skating down the right wing Martin St. Louis fired a shot that Ward smothered in the crease. On the following faceoff, Lecavalier won the draw allowing Prospal to take a hard-angled shot on Ward.
The Lightning eventually broke through on their chances when Lecavalier opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the season. After the puck went into the corner following a Lecavalier faceoff win, the Lightning center dished a shot to the front of the net. Ouellet put a shot on Ward, pulling him to the left side of the net and allowing Lecavalier to tap the rebound behind the Hurricanes netminder.
Minutes later Ouellet followed up the goal with a shot in front of the net, before Ward stopped an attempt by Andre Roy from the top of the left faceoff circle.
At the opposite end of the ice, Holmqvist denied forward Justin Williams on a wrap-around attempt. The Lightning netminder then turned away a snapshot by Glen Wesley before O’Brien scored his third goal of the season.
Heading up the play, Ouellet skated into the zone on a two-on-one rush with Lecavalier. Carrying the puck down the right side, Ouellet cut to the net for a shot. Although Ouellet missed a chance to get his stick on the rebound, O’Brien jumped into the play to put the puck to the right of Ward as he worked the play from his knees.
Skating into the second period with a 2-0 lead, Brad Richards wasted little time getting a chance against the Hurricanes. A little more than a minute into the period Prospal fired a shot from the left faceoff circle as Richards skated to the side of the net. Coming in at Ward’s left side, Richards got a shot off the rebound but the puck banged low off the post.
Despite the missed attempt, Filip Kuba posted his first goal of the season 1:58 into the frame to give the Lightning a three-goal lead. Carrying the puck across the blue line off an up-ice pass by Richards Kuba skated down the left wing. The Lightning defense tossed a hard-angle shot from low in the left faceoff circle to slip the puck through Ward’s stickside arm.
Late in the period Lecavalier was awarded his second penalty shot of the season after defenseman Tim Gleason hooked his arm on a breakaway. Ward turned away the shot as Lecavalier looked for the low wrist shot on the attempt.
O’Brien went on to close out the second period scoring with his second goal of the night. Coming out of the box on a late holding penalty, O’Brien converted an outlet pass by Andreas Karlsson. O’Brien collected the puck as it careened off the side boards and skated into the offensive zone on a breakaway, wristing a shot past Ward’s stick side.
The goal gave O’Brien his second two-goal night of the season, and the second of his career. The Lightning defenseman began the season with a pair of scores through 80 games.
As the teams exchanged 30 shots during the second period, Holmqvist came up with a number of strong saves to hold the Hurricanes off the board. With Jan Hlavac serving a hooking penalty the Lightning netminder robbed Erik Cole at the side of the net after making an initial save on a shot by Matt Cullen. When the rebound bounced towards the right post Cole looked to put the puck into the open side of the net, but Holmqvist dove from the top of the crease to the post to get his glove on the shot.
Late in the period as the Hurricanes peppered Holmqvist with shots on a delayed penalty called. After Frantisek Kaberle put the puck deep in the zone on a shot from the blue line, Cullen, Eric Staal and Craig Adams each got rebound attempts at the crease.
In the third Holmqvist continued his strong play, denying Williams in front of the crease. After getting tripped by Williams behind the net, Holmqvist returned to his crease in time to make a stick save on the Hurricanes forward.
Although Ray Whitney scored at 2:04 of the period to wipe out the shutout bid, Prospal scored a power play marker late in the period to close out the scoring for Tampa Bay. Converting a shot by St. Louis in the slot, Prospal jumped into the play at the side of the net to pop the rebound over Ward.
With his assist on the play, St. Louis extended his current points streak to four games. The Lightning winger has posted two goals and four assists in that span. Prospal has also posted points in four consecutive games, notching one goal and five assists.
Also extending his current point-scoring streak to four games, Lecavalier recorded one goal and one assist in the contest. Lecavalier has put multiple points on the scoresheet in four consecutive games, piling up nine points (two goals, seven assists) during the stretch.
Cory Stillman saw his eight-game scoring streak come to an end as the Lightning and Holmqvist held the former Tampa Bay forward off the scoreboard for the first time since October 20 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Facing 41 shots, Holmqvist recorded the second 40-save game of his career. Holmqvist improved to 4-1-0 through five career appearances against the Hurricanes, posting his third consecutive victory at Carolina.
The Hurricanes out-shot the Lightning 41-31 in the contest, but were held off the board through three power play opportunities. Tampa Bay went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Lightning remain on the road to close out their current two-game trip on Saturday, November 10 (7:00p.m., 620 WDAE) against the Washington Capitals. The game marks the second meeting between the teams at Washington this season, and the second of eight meetings.
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Martin St. Louis