Tampa Bay Sports Day

NHL: Power Play Propels Lightning Past Hurricanes

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay’s power play was the difference Saturday night against Carolina.

The Lightning scored two goals with a man advantage against the best penalty kill in the league and claimed a 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay has won four of its past six games and has points in six of seven.

Brian Boyle, Jonathan Drouin and Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman each had two assists and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 26 saves.

Sebastian Aho scored for the Hurricanes, who lost in regulation for the second time this season in eight back-to-back situations. Cam Ward made 22 saves for Carolina.

The power play went to work quickly for Tampa Bay after Noah Hanifin was called for tripping at 7:01 of the first period.

Off a faceoff win in the Carolina zone, Hedman slid the puck over to Kucherov at the right point for a one-timer.

Though Ward made the initial save, Boyle was cutting through the crease and put the rebound in at 7:35 for his 10th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay’s power play struck again late in the period three seconds after a two-man advantage expired. Drouin wired a wrist shot from the left circle past Ward with 9.6 seconds left to carry a 2-0 lead in to the second period.

“Just having that shooting mentality helped a lot and that was the bottom line,” Hedman said of the power play efficiency. “We won some faceoffs, so you don’t have to break out.

“And they are a good in the neutral zone, make it tough for teams to enter the zone on the power play. So winning faceoffs, having movement and keeping a shooting mentality helped us a lot today.”

Carolina came in with the top penalty kill in the league, allowing eight power play goals all season, and had not give up more than one power play goal in a game.

“I think we were playing back-to-back and you come out on the road you have to build a game, especially when the other team is fresh,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “It would have been nice to be able to have the opportunity to build a game a little more five-on-five. Unfortunately, we didn’t kill the penalties that were assessed and we fell behind the eight-ball.”

The Lightning killed off two Hurricanes power play chances in the opening seven minutes of the second period before building on the lead midway through the period.

Rookie center Matthew Peca took the puck off the stick of Derek Ryan along the right boards and fed a backhand pass to Killorn, who beat Ward to the near post for his 12th goal of the season at 13:22 to put Tampa Bay up 3-0.
Peca picked up his first career NHL point on the play.

The Hurricanes cut in to the lead less than two minutes later when Aho had a step on Jason Garrison after taking a pass from Jaccob Slavin before slipping the puck under the pads of Vaslievskiy at 15:20 for his seventh goal of the season to make it 3-1 heading in to the third period.

It was the third breakaway chance of the period for Carolina.

“Our second period was not to our standard,” Hedman said. “Vasy came up big for us especially when they pushed hard and allowed us to kind of squeeze out of the period.”

The Hurricanes kept pressing but were unable to capitalize on an early power play chance in the third period that could have allowed them back in to the game.

“When you start off with a couple of quick penalties that become power play goals, it’s not easy to come back,” Carolina’s Jordan Staal said. “We played pretty good five-on-five. The penalty kill has been pretty good for us this year, but tonight it wasn’t.”

Tampa Bay, besieged by injuries this season, played the third period without Boyle, who suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury and did not return.

GAME NOTES: Carolina G Eddie Lack was too sick to dress for the Hurricanes, so equipment manager Jorge Alves was signed to a professional tryout contract and served as the backup to Cam Ward. Alves, who wore No. 40, played club hockey at North Carolina State before playing in the minor leagues, last with Charlotte in the East Coast Hockey League. Alves entered the game with eight seconds remaining in the third period. … Lightning C Vladislav Namestnikov returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. … Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan participated in the team’s morning skate and could return to the lineup by next week. Callahan, who underwent hip surgery in the summer, has not played since Nov. 27. … Bill Peters coached his 200th career game with the Hurricanes. … Carolina placed D Justin Faulk on injured reserve. … Tampa Bay scratched Nikita Nesterov. … The Hurricanes were without C Elias Lindholm, who was injured in Friday’s game against Chicago and did not return. … D Klas Dahlback was a healthy scratch for Carolina.