The Carolina Hurricanes might have thought that they had the Tampa Bay Lightning right where they wanted them, but Martin St. Louis made a beautiful move on rookie defenseman Brett Carson, then beat goalie Manny Legace for the game winner just 29 seconds into overtime, giving the Lightning a 3-2 win at home.
The Canes won the last three times they went into overtime and probably felt pretty confident, but St. Louis quickly put an end to that streak.
The game started out a bit slowly as the first period was scoreless, but St. Louis marked up the opening tally when he got behind the defense early in the second period. Teddy Purcell fed him a beautiful pass and the high scoring winger made no mistake with his wide open attempt.
The Canes would strike back late in the period when Sergei Samsonov jumped out of the penalty box and beat the Lightning defense down the ice. Samsonov took the puck behind the net and fed a wide open Erik Cole who was able to beat Antero Niittymaki with just 1:01 left in the period.
Carolina was not finished yet though.
Just 18 seconds later, Joni Pitkanen was behind the net and fired the puck toward the crease. It bounced out to Chad LaRose and the newly promoted forward chipped the puck into the net to give the Canes a 2-1 lead.
LaRose was moved up to the top line with Eric Staal and Ray Whitney in a move Paul Maurice said was made to give the line a bit more energy. Erik Cole moved to the "big and tall" line, with Zach Boychuk and Patrick Dwyer.
The change seemed to work as both lines created more chances afterward.
The third period was pretty evenly played but the Hurricanes were called for two penalties and that turned out to be the difference in the game.
Eric Staal was called for tripping and that penalty was killed, but then Ray Whitney was called for slashing and Tampa took full advantage. Steve Downie tipped in a Steven Stamkos shot for his 20th of the season to tie the score and that's the way things stayed until St. Louis settled things in OT.
Next up will be the season's last match up with the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
- The Canes were called for three minor penalties, but did not get a single powerplay the entire game. That was a season first.
- Jamie McBain had his point streak snapped, but not due to lack of trying. He had three shots on goal and also blocked four shots. His chances were also hurt by not having an opportunity on the powerplay.
- Martin St. Louis turned defenseman Brett Carson inside out on the game winner and the rookie blamed himself after the game. "I got beat in OT there and it cost us the extra point", the defenseman said. But this is how young players grow and Carson will learn from the mistake.
Brian Pothier led the team with five blocked shots. McBain was next with four. The Hurricanes had a total of 25.
Jay Harrison dropped the gloves with heavyweight Zenon Konopka and held his own. Both fighters grew tired at the end of the bout with neither of them leaving their feet. Harrison also had a team high four hits. Carolina was only credited with 13 hits for the game.
- The Canes had 29 shots on goal led by Chad LaRose who had five.
- Eric Staal had a better night in the faceoff circle and won 12 of 21 faceoffs for 57%. Brandon Sutter won 60% of his draws, (12-20). Rod Brind`Amour had an unusally bad night for him, 2 of 9 for 22%.
- Once again Joni Pitkanen played a ton of minutes and finished with 29:59 of TOI. No one else on either team approached 24 minutes.