Aren't these little division games a blast?
Games like last night's are annoying, because considering the competitor, going into the game, you'd have thought we would have won. Blame it on the traveling, blame it on the schedule, blame it on underestimating the opponent--the bottom line is that the Bolts fought hard, but missed too many important opportunities, leaving Carolina was the dominant force.
The Canes took advantage of every opportunity against the Bolts, and smashed the Lightning penalty kill. They scored on four of five power plays, versus the lightning who scored on zero of five.
The lines were also changed in last night's game, due to Teddy Purcell and Matt Smaby being scratched. Shifting things around put Malone-Vinny-Marty together, and Gagne-Stamkos-Downie together to compensate.
The climax to last night's tragic fate against Carolina was the hooking call given to Steven Stamkos with two minutes left in the game. I watched the game from home, and the penalty was out of sight from the game I was watching, but not only did Stamkos get penalized with two minutes left in the game, his arguing over the call got him a ten minute misconduct penalty. And as we all know, Stamkos isn't exactly the most temperamental of guys, so seeing him get thrown out of the game is a pretty strange combo.
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It was a fast game from the start. The Bolts and the Canes started quickly, but the Bolts found success first--Pavel Kubina provided good coverage at the blue line, allowing Steve Downie to bring the puck in and pass it to Stamkos, who scored from the from of the net at 1:44, bringing it in past Cam Ward's right side, for the 1-0 opener.
Carolina battled back, and as I already said, took advantage of the Lightning power play, evening the score 1-1 with Chad LaRose's backhand shot. With another Carolina goal late in the period, the score was 2-1, until Vincent Lecavalier found the net with 23 seconds to go in the first, evening the score at 2-2 to finish the first.
Like the first period, the Bolts came back strong and fast in the second; Stamkos made an excellent pass to Simon Gagne, carrying the puck through two Carolina defense men, and Simon Gagne scored at 1:02, giving the Lightning the momentary 3-2 lead.
But if things seemed even, that idea evaporated quickly. With three Lightning penalties in the first five minutes, the Bolts continued to stack the odds against them. Jamie McBain evened the score at 4:19 on the Carolina power play; and Jussi Jokinen raised the score 4-3 on the Carolina power play, after penalties to both Stamkos and Mattias Ohlund resulted in a 5-on-3 that the Bolts couldn't protect.
And that wasn't the worst of it. Eric Staal found the Lightning net at 12:51 on the Lightning power play, giving Carolina a short-handed goal to finish the second at 5-3.
In the third, Gagne had a huge goal for the Lightning at 11:05. The unassisted goal to brought the score to 5-4, but following Gagne's brilliant goal, nothing else worked for the Bolts. The Lightning tried pulling Dwayne Roloson for the 6-on-5 attempt, but after winning the faceoff, Carolina pushed the puck out of the zone and Jokinen scored a sixth goal for Carolina with an empty-netter.
Despite the loss, the Lightning (26-15-5) still sit at the top of the Southeast division, and will return home to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:30 PM. If you won't be at the game, feel free to hop in the game thread while you follow the game, or at least say hello.
Lightning vs Hurricanes coverage [SB Nation]
Canes Country [SB Nation]