|CAR||1||1||2||(0 - 0)||4|
|TBL||1||0||2||(0 - 0)||3|
Despite playing through a stretch of tough losses, the Tampa Bay Lightning are refusing to go quietly.
The Lightning displayed a late third-period outburst that brought them to within one goal with under six minutes to play in regulation, but could not pull out a victory Friday night, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in front of the home crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne scored a pair of goals 52 seconds apart in the final period to cut the Hurricanes lead to one, but Cam Ward turned back 18 shots on the night and made some key saves with his team shorthanded in the final minutes to earn the win.
Carolina now has won three straight games and sits three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings, while Tampa Bay remains two points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens in fifth place with 89 points.
“In the last six minutes, after I was screaming for a period and a half to shoot the puck instead of looking for pretty plays, all of a sudden we do,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “We score two goals, and I think we could have scored a fourth one.”
Gagne also had a first-period goal for Tampa Bay, who has dropped four consecutive games and 10 of 12 this month. Dwayne Roloson added 35 saves.
Erik Cole scored twice for Carolina, and Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal also had goals for the Hurricanes, who will host the Lightning in the back half of a home-and-home series tomorrow night in Raleigh at the RBC Center.
Carolina controlled the pace of the game through the opening 40 minutes, despite allowing the game’s opening goal to Gagne on the power play at 7:11. The Hurricanes’ aggressive forecheck and ability to draw penalties shifted the game’s momentum in the visitors’ favor midway through the first.
“I think we executed the way we wanted to and did a lot of good things,” Cole said. “Hopefully this game can be the blueprint moving forward in helping us do what we need to be successful.”
Skinner’s goal at 12:52 of the opening period tied it five minutes after Gagne’s goal with a wrist shot from the slot that beat Roloson to the far post, sparking a Hurricanes scoring spree marked by four unanswered goals.
Cole scored with the man advantage 8:23 into the second period that gave Carolina its first lead. The Hurricanes forward positioned himself at the side of the net and beat Roloson with his 21st of the year to go up 2-1.
He gave the Hurricanes a two-goal lead with 13:10 left to go in regulation after intercepting Eric Brewer’s clearing attempt in front of the crease and lifting a backhand past Roloson to put Carolina up 3-1 with just over half a period to play.
Carolina outshot Tampa Bay 24-10 through the first two periods, including surrendering just three shots in the second frame alone.
“We get outshot at one point, it’s one-sided, and that didn’t work tonight,” Tampa Bay forward St. Louis said. “They outplayed us, plain and simple.”
Carolina went up by three on a power-play goal by Staal at 12:20, but a late scoring flurry pulled Tampa Bay back within one late in the third period.
First, Lecavalier cut the deficit to two off the draw just 57 seconds following Staal’s goal when a puck deflected off the skate and in. Then, Gagne cashed in his second of the night 52 seconds later with the man advantage to bring the Lightning within one.
“We had a lot of bad penalties and we didn’t have a lot of scoring chances or shots, but we got some goals there at the end,” Gagne said. “The bottom line is we have to score more goals.”
Carolina got into penalty trouble of its own late in the game. Derek Joslin was sent off with six minutes remaining in regulation for goaltender interference, and the Hurricanes found themselves a man short for the second time just three minutes later when Bryan Allen was called for boarding after shoving Gagne head-first from behind into the end boards.
Tampa Bay couldn’t capitalize, however, as Ward made a series of key stops in the final minutes, serving a key role on the Hurricanes penalty kill unit that went three-for-five on the night.
“This one scares me,” Boucher added. “After a while it becomes a result of our players not sticking to what made us successful all year.”
|PPG - Simon Gagne (13) Wrist shot - ASST: Martin St Louis (60), Vincent Lecavalier (24)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Jeff Skinner (26) Wrist shot - ASST: Tuomo Ruutu (32), Joni Pitkanen (29)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Erik Cole (21) Tip-in - ASST: Cory Stillman (22), Eric Staal (37)|
2 - 1 CAR
|Erik Cole (22) Backhand shot - ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 CAR
|PPG - Eric Staal (30) Wrist shot - ASST: Joe Corvo (25), Joni Pitkanen (30)|
4 - 1 CAR
|Vincent Lecavalier (20) Tip-in - ASST: Victor Hedman (22)|
4 - 2 CAR
|PPG - Simon Gagne (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Martin St Louis (61), Brett Clark (21)|
4 - 3 CAR
|Vincent Lecavalier Roughing against Jay Harrison|
|Jeff Skinner Holding against Eric Brewer|
|Jay Harrison Roughing against Simon Gagne|
|Jay Harrison Cross checking against Steve Downie|
|Steve Downie Slashing against Jay Harrison|
|Dwayne Roloson Tripping against Cory Stillman|
|Steven Stamkos Hooking against Tim Gleason|
|Victor Hedman Tripping against Tuomo Ruutu|
|Jay Harrison Tripping against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Sean Bergenheim Hooking against Tuomo Ruutu|
|Steven Stamkos Tripping against Jeff Skinner|
|Steve Downie Misconduct (10 min)|
|Derek Joslin Interference on goalkeeper against Dwayne Roloson|
|Bryan Allen Boarding against Simon Gagne|
|SA: 21||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 18||EV: 12 - 13|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 7|
|SV%: .857||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 39||TOI: 59:21|
|Saves: 35||EV: 26 - 28|
|PIM: 2||PP: 6 - 8|
|SV%: .897||SH: 3 - 3|