Following a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay Monday night in which Rod Brind’Amour said the team lacked emotional investment, the Carolina Hurricanes bounced back with a huge win Tuesday, topping the Lightning 4-1 in Tampa to finish off the season series.
The win puts the Canes three points up on the Lightning in the Central Division Standings with a game in hand.
Nino Niederreiter notched a goal and an assist for the Canes, and Jordan Staal, Steven Lorentz and Jordan Martinook also scored.
Alex Nedeljkovic was sharp in net, especially early in the first period and late in the third, and turned aside 26 of 27 Tampa Bay shots.
The Canes came out of the gate with plenty of jump in this one, outshooting Tampa 8-1 through about five minutes. It was Nedeljkovic, however, who made the best early save, stoning Ryan McDonagh on a point-blank chance to keep things scoreless.
The Canes finally broke the ice about eight minutes into the second period with goals 25 seconds apart. Vincent Trocheck drove down the wing and slid a perfect backhand dish to Niederreiter between the circles that the latter fired home to make it 1-0.
Staal then won a net-front battle with Yanni Gourde and tipped home a point shot from Dougie Hamilton, who extended his point streak to five games, to put Carolina up by a pair.
The Hurricanes score twice in 25 seconds after Jordan Staal out-bodies Yanni Gourde and deflects Dougie Hamilton's point shot. 2-0 Canes lead in Tampa. pic.twitter.com/xw07ZRLCY8— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) April 21, 2021
The win did not come without a cost, as Brady Skjei left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return after taking a hit from behind in the first period.
Skjei will not return tonight after this hit by Blake Coleman that went uncalled. Likely concussion protocol pic.twitter.com/cH7P3yVgMk— NHL Safety Watch (@NHLSafetyWatch) April 21, 2021
The fourth line played a strong game, generating pressure and creating chances, and cashed in late in the second. Lorentz tripled the Canes’ lead with his second NHL goal with about three minutes left in the middle frame, taking a slick feed from Geekie out of the corner and snapping it past Vasilevskiy.
The 3-0 lead was short-lived, however, as Brayden Point found an opening in front of the Canes’ net and tipped a centering feed past Nedeljkovic to bring Tampa Bay within two just 18 seconds later.
The Canes carried their 3-1 lead into the third period, and while they could not extend it, they started the frame strong, with the fourth line hemming Tampa Bay in with a good shift to set the tone early.
While Carolina failed to capitalize on a power play with about nine minutes left, the team continued to keep Tampa at bay until the Bolts got a power play of their own with 5:28 left, but the Canes killed with a strong, aggressive PK.
Nedeljkovic made another sharp stop to keep Carolina up two with 1:17 left, and the Canes salted it away with Martinook’s empty netter with two seconds left to pick up two huge points in regulation.
Next up for the Canes is another monumental two-game series, this one at the Florida Panthers. Carolina and Florida are currently tied for first place in the Central Division, but the Canes have two games in hand.