The Carolina Hurricanes were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, 5-2, as Cam Ward valiantly made a ton of outstanding saves in the losing effort. The Lightning out-shot the Canes in the first two periods 17-9 and 11-7 but the goalie was able to keep his team in the thick of things until the deciding third period.
The Hurricanes were called for seven penalties, adding to their league leading total in that category. The penalty kill looked good and was equal to the task until the 13 minute mark of the third when Steve Downie tipped in a shot from the point to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead.
The Canes looked sluggish in the opening period as the rested Lightning seemed to skate circles around them in the offensive zone. But the period ended up scoreless due to great work by Ward.
After goals were so tough to come by in the previous period, the puck seemed to have eyes in the second. Eric Staal got things started with a powerplay tally as he used his patented wrap around to put the visitors ahead. It was a short-lived lead though as the Lightning would tie things up less than a minute later on a blast by Paul Ranger.
Ryan Malone would put the Bolts up by one with a backhander just 15 seconds after Ranger's goal. It would be the first goal of a hat-trick for the ex-Penguin.
But the Canes tried to make a game of it. Rod Brind`Amour scored on another powerplay as he answered with a backhander of his own. The second period ended up tied at 2-2.
The third period was all Tampa Bay on the scoresheet, even if Carolina did even up the shots on goal stat, (10-10). Ryan Malone would score his second of the contest when the Canes defense failed to control a bad bounce off the boards. Jussi Jokinen took a retaliation penalty and Downie scored his insurance tally with the man advantage, and Malone finished things up when he dove on the ice past Staal and hustled to knock in an empty-netter.
The Hurricanes had won their last two games, plus eight in a row spanning three seasons over the Lightning, but the home team put an end to both streaks. Next up will be the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
- Eric Staal made several nice plays later in the game. He faked out Vincent Lecavalier on one sequence, and broke open for another open shot after that, but Antero Niittymaki was up to the challenge.
- The Canes were out-shot for the game 39-26. Staal led his team with eight.
- The hits were even for both teams, 19-19. But this was Carolina's lowest total in some time. They had 32 last night and 42 the game before. Niclas Wallin, Andrew Alberts, and Scott Walker had three each.
- The face off percentage was abysmal at 34%. Cullen was 20%, (2 of 10), Brind'Amour 29%, (6 of 21), Staal 33%, (6 of 18), and Yelle 70%, (7 of 10).
- The fourth line had reduced minutes as Yelle played 8:10, Kostopoulos 7:35, and Conboy 3:32.
- Joe Corvo led the team with three blocked shots and 27:23 of ice time.