Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes did a lot of things well tonight, but ultimately Tampa Bay did enough at the right times to emerge victories. Despite outshooting the opposition 51-24, the Canes fell 5-3 to the Bolts and dropped the season series, 0-2-1. “Nobody quit. We were down early and all that, but after that, there were a lot of things that were really good about our game tonight. No one quit,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s just unfortunate about the outcome because there were a lot of good things.”
-- Tampa Bay was simply the more opportunistic team. Their shots and scoring chances were limited in comparison, but they capitalized. The Canes, on the other hand, poured it on, but the deficit proved too steep to overcome. “We didn’t sulk or cry,” Eric Staal said. “We continued to work and compete. We had a lot of other chances and fought hard to try to get back into it, but it was just too big of a hill to climb.”
-- Despite the tough start, which resulted in Justin Peters being pulled from the crease after allowing three goals on seven shots, the Canes played well in the early going. Opportunistic as they were all night, the Lightning took advantage of a power play and an odd-man rush, and suddenly it was 2-0. Their lead would increase to 4-0 early in the second period before the Canes found the back of the net. “It was a tough night. We had a good start. A lot of what we wanted to do was throw pucks at the net and attack,” Staal said. “Unfortunately, you take a penalty and they capitalize right away. Then an odd-man rush. All those goals that can deflate you, they capitalized on.”
-- Just over a minute after Teddy Purcell made it 4-0 Tampa Bay, the Canes solved Ben Bishop, who came into the game owning a 3-0-0 record against Carolina with two shutouts, a 0.66 goals-against average and a .981 save percentage. Alexander Semin went end-to-end and put one past Bishop’s glove side, a power-play tally. Four minutes later, Staal pick-pocketed Jean-Philippe Cote in the neutral zone, walked in on an odd-man rush and scored through Bishop’s five-hole. “That’s the first game this year where our first line looked like a real dominating line,” Muller said. “They really controlled a lot of the play, and it’s on Alex’s stick a lot. He’s involved in the offensive zone a majority of the time.”
-- After Tampa Bay stretched their lead to three goals, Ron Hainsey would eventually cut the lead to two in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canes got it, despite a multitude of chances that Bishop was able to keep out of his net. “Their goaltender played well, and he’s been real solid for them all year. They were getting timely goals at the right times,” Staal said. “That’s classic finding a way to win for them. Opportunistic goals.”
-- Peters, who started his first game tonight since Dec. 27 against Pittsburgh (4-3 OTL), has just one win in his last seven games, though he’s earned a point in three others. Muller said he plans on using two goalies from now until the Olympic break. “If it wasn’t for him (Peters), we wouldn’t be in the playoff race. He’s played some really good hockey for us … and won some big games for us,” Muller said. “At the start of the year, he wasn’t even with the hockey club. … He stayed with it, he’s been a big part of the team this year and he deserves to play.”
-- Here’s something that’s been an extreme rarity this season: Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera didn’t have their best outing, especially in the first period. They were a combined minus-8, and they were on the ice for all five of Tampa Bay’s goals. “Reggie and Faulker, no excuses. They’ve been very consistent and very good this year,” Muller said. “They had a tough start to this game. Nobody is perfect, and those two guys will bounce back and be ready to go.”
-- A few random notes: Tonight was Manny Malhotra’s 900th NHL game. His career began in 1998, and he scored his first game-winning goal on Nov. 10, 1998. The opponent? The Tampa Bay Lightning. … Carolina took 50 shots in a game for the first time since April 7, 2009, when they took 57 against the New York Islanders (a team record). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Hurricanes took at least twice as many shots as their opponent and lost by two goals or more was on Dec. 31, 2006, when they outshot Philadelphia, 42-19, and lost, 5-2.
-- Carolina will next face off in Philadelphia on Tuesday against the Flyers, who currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ll then travel to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Thursday before returning home to take on Ottawa on Friday.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Rookie defenseman Mark Barberio scored his first two NHL goals and 11 of his teammates hit the score sheet to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Sunday.
With the win, the Lightning moved into a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division with the Boston Bruins, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout earlier Sunday.
Fellow rookie Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop turned back 47 shots to improve his record to 24-6-4.
After being outshot 8-1 early in the first period, the Lightning connected for a power-play goal to start the scoring at 6:09. Barberio scored the first goal of his NHL career at the edge of the crease, taking a backhand pass from Alex Killorn.
The Hurricanes played the sequence at a disadvantage after Andrej Sekera's stick was broken by a shot. Patrick Dwyer handed off his stick and went to the bench for a replacement, only to have Barberio find the net before Dwyer could help defend.
Tampa Bay made it 2-0 1:23 later on Palat's 10th of the season, a one-timer from the slot after a Martin St. Louis pass from the left wing.
Nikita Kucherov pushed the lead to 3-0 at 15:07 after Carolina's defensive coverage broke down. Kucherov buried a close-range shot to Justin Peters' glove side. Ryan Malone started the play by winning a couple puck battles along the boards.
That spelled the end of the evening for Peters, who made his first appearance since Dec. 28. He was replaced by Anton Khudobin.
The Lightning needed 24 seconds at the start of the second period to extend the lead. Tyler Johnson fed Teddy Purcell in front on a delayed penalty for his 10th of the season.
But the Hurricanes battled back with two goals in less than four minutes. On the power play, Alexander Semin finished a beautiful end-to-end rush with a shot inside the far post at 1:46.
Eric Staal made another strong individual play to make it 4-2, stealing the puck from Jean-Philippe Cote in the neutral zone before firing a shot between the legs of Bishop.
Barberio scored his second goal at 8:12 after hard-working shift by the Lightning. His slap shot from the high slot deflected off Sekera.
Bishop was strong throughout the game and saved his best stop for late in the third, when he denied Semin with the glove while sprawled on the ice.