Tampa Bay

Game Recap

Hurricanes 4, Lightning 3

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

David Droschak

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Hurricanes 4, Lightning 3
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Carolina Hurricanes 4

The Carolina Hurricanes followed up their worst third period of the season with their best, and in the process solved the riddle that has been the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canes had lost to their Southeast Division rivals 6-1 and 5-1 over the last two weeks and appeared headed for another downer after trailing 3-1, but got third-period goals by Ray Whitney, Justin Williams and Glen Wesley to defeat Tampa Bay 4-3 Friday night.

After allowing four third-period goals in a 6-3 loss Wednesday night to Philadelphia, the Canes came out fired up for the final 20 minutes, scoring three goals in a span of 6:43 to move seven points ahead of the second-place Lightning.

“We just said ‘enough is enough against these guys’ and came out and skated real hard in the third,” said Eric Staal. “Ray’s goal seemed to energize the building, energize our team, and from there the confidence got stronger and we started making plays, started taking it to them. It just filtered through the team.”   

Wesley’s game-winner and first goal since last February 22 came after some stellar work by Staal, who outfoxed two Tampa Bay players behind the net, then got in front of Johan Holmqvist for the perfect screen.

“There was no question he dug in on that,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Staal’s play on the Wesley goal. “There was a lot of work that went on before that goal and he did most of it. One-on-two, second effort, second effort again, digging down and finding the puck, then he gets back to the front of the net. It was a lot of work on his part.”

Carolina trailed by two goals entering the third after second-period goals by Vaclav Prospal and Carolina nemesis Vincent Lecavalier 2:19 apart. Lecavalier’s assist on the Prospal goal gave the NHL scoring leader nine points in three games this season against Carolina, including five of his 15 goals.

Whitney narrowed the Tampa Bay lead to one when he scored less than two minutes into the third period after taking a pass from Matt Cullen. Whitney’s score gave the Canes four players with at least 10 or more goals.  

About four minutes later Williams took a nice feed from Rod Brind’Amour and rifled a wrist shot for his ninth. Then the 20-year veteran Wesley got the RBC Center rocking when his goal sailed past Holmqvist, who had allowed just two goals against Carolina in the two previous meetings.

“We know we can play with these guys because we’ve got great balance in this locker room,” said Wesley. “We knew we were capable of playing better. We’ve played good in spurts against Tampa, but not consistent enough to win. We put together our best period of the year in the third period. We owed it to ourselves.”

The Canes managed just one shot on three second-period power plays and mustered just 10 shots through 40 minutes and finished with season-low 22 shots – just the fourth time in 23 games they’ve finished with less than 30. Carolina averages 34.3 shots a game, good for second in the NHL.

“Offensively, I still think we went to sleep for 20, 24 minutes,” Laviolette said. “We did wake up in the third. It was important to just start firing pucks to the net.”   

Erik Cole’s return after missing four games with a neck injury was evident from the start as he planted two hits on his first shift and then created some offense on Staal’s team-leading 14th of the season less than five minutes into the game. The goal was reviewed by the video judge for about five minutes after Staal stuffed the puck between the post and the pads of Holmqvist.

Cole had two assists and played more than 21 minutes with a team-high five hits.

“It felt good to get on the ice,” said Cole. “I felt the legs were good, and I thought the hands were suspect. It was a good character win, a good team-building win.”

“Erik started the game with a purpose,” added Laviolette. “He got right back into it. I think he wanted to bang some bodies to prove to himself that his neck was OK.”

The Lightning tied it at 1-1 with 5:57 left in the first on what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot by defenseman Paul Ranger from the blue line, but Cam Ward lost the puck through traffic.

Staal came within an inch of getting his second of the period with 6.6 seconds left when he corralled a loose puck off the board after a shot from the point went wide and flicked the puck off the back of Holmqvist. But the rubber landed on the top of the net instead of hitting the goalie and trickling in. 

NOTES: Staal has 100 goals in his first 268 games. …The Canes were 1-3 without Cole in the lineup and were outscored 16-6. … Scott Walker missed his 16th game with a torso injury, but could return Wednesday against Philadelphia. … Brind’Amour won 20 of 32 faceoffs. … Wesley’s goal was his first point of the season and 15th game-winner in 1,402 career games.

scoring summary
1st Period
Eric Staal (14) ASST: Cory Stillman (16), Erik Cole (10)
1 - 0 CAR
Paul Ranger (5) ASST: Michel Ouellet (9), Brad Richards (16)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
Vinny Prospal (13) ASST: Martin St. Louis (20), Vincent Lecavalier (21)
2 - 1 TBL
Vincent Lecavalier (15) ASST: Martin St. Louis (21), Filip Kuba (8)
3 - 1 TBL
3rd Period
Ray Whitney (10) ASST: Matt Cullen (19)
3 - 2 TBL
Justin Williams (9) ASST: Rod Brind'Amour (17), Tim Gleason (3)
3 - 3 Tie
Glen Wesley (1) ASST: Erik Cole (11), Cory Stillman (17)
4 - 3 CAR
penalty summary
1st Period
Matt Cullen  Hooking against  Filip Kuba
2nd Period
Chris Gratton  Holding against  Chad LaRose
Jason Ward  Tripping against  Erik Cole
Niclas Wallin  Hooking against  Vincent Lecavalier
Vincent Lecavalier  Slashing against  Chad LaRose
3rd Period
Chris Gratton  Holding against  Chad LaRose
goalie stats
Johan Holmqvist
Johan Holmqvist
SA: 22TOI: 59:14
Saves: 18EV: 16 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 2
SV%: .818SH: 0 - 0
Cam Ward
SA: 28TOI: 60:00
Saves: 25EV: 21 - 24
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 2
SV%: .893SH: 2 - 2