The Carolina Hurricanes picked up right where they left off before the All Star break and continued playing winning hockey, this time as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2 in front of a national television audience on Tuesday night at the PNC Arena.
The Canes are now 7-2-1 in the month of January and they have won three in a row. Goalie Anton Khudobin continued his winning streak as well and has now won the past six straight games he has started.
The home team got off to a fast start as Eric Staal lit the lamp on a mis-hit or deflected shot just 22 seconds into the game. The shot fooled Ben Bishop, who probably would like to forget this night. Bishop ended up allowing four goals on 22 Carolina shots.
Khudobin made 28 saves on 30 Tampa shots.
Carolina made the score 2-0 when Nathan Gerbe jumped on a rebound. Coach Jon Cooper had seen enough at this point and called a time out, then the visitors came on strong after that. The Canes were outshooting the Bolts 7-3 at that given time, but ended up with a 14-7 disadvantage at the end of the period.
Before the end of the period, the Bolts got the score to 2-1, on a puck that bounced in past Khudobin off of Bellemore from in close.
Just back from the All Star game, Justin Faulk would score an unassisted powerplay goal midway through the second to make it 3-1, his ninth of the season, but the Lightning made it 3-2 when Brian Boyle stole the puck at the point during a Carolina powerplay and skated in alone shorthanded.
Faulk got involved again in the third when he and Jiri Tlusty teamed up on a 2-on-1 break. The defenseman read the play perfectly and fed Tlusty, who made no mistake when he got the puck.
Earlier, Tlusty took a spill head first into the boards and had to go to the room for a short time, but he said he was fine after the game. He was awarded the fireman's helmet as the team's MVP.
Both Faulk and Eric Staal said after the game that they felt like the team put in a solid 60 minute effort in this game and of course Khudobin was very solid in net.
Next up will be the Blues at home on Friday night.
- The record long penalty kill streak might be over, but the unit looked very good again in this game as they killed off all three Tampa Bay powerplay chances. The Carolina powerplay went 1-3, but of course allowed that shorthanded goal.
- Khudobin's stats continue to improve and his save percentage is now up to .918. He is making it impossible for his coach to bench him as long as he keeps winning.
- The Canes were outshot 30-22 but made their shots count and got a couple of breaks in this game. They were led by defensemen Ryan Murphy and Faulk, who had four shots each.
- Tim Gleason and Riley Nash led the way with three blocked shots each.
- As usual, Faulk had a team high 23:30 of TOI.
- The team only had 13 hits, led by Brett Bellemore with three.