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Game 30 recap: Lightning win 2-1 thriller over Hurricanes

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Backup goalie Evgeni Nabokov was fantastic in net and the Lightning took advantage of fortunate bounces as they snap their two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win, decided in the final seconds, over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.

In a game that was about as even as you can get between two teams, the Lightning came out on top in a duel of stellar performances by both goaltenders, Tampa Bay's Evgeni Nabokov and Carolina's Cam Ward. Until the final seconds, neither team had an advantage of more than one or two in shots taken and ultimately, the Bolts won because they were the beneficiaries of two crucial mistakes by the Hurricanes.

"A couple weird ones. When you work hard and stick with the plan, pucks go your way and when you don't, (like) the last couple of games, they don't go your way. It's nice to see a couple of good bounces." - Steven Stamkos

The Lightning started out well at the beginning of the game, however any momentum they tried to build was erased by two penalties. Fortunately, they were able to kill off the ensuing power plays, as well as a third penalty against them later in the period. Both Nabokov and Ward made a number of remarkable saves during the opening period, effectively setting the tone for the game.

There was no score through the first two periods and the Lightning got on the board first thanks to Ward's only real mistake of the game, which really wasn't even his fault. With the Lightning on the power play, Anton Stralman dumped the puck in along the glass. Ward went behind the net in anticipation of stopping the puck there. Instead, it took a flukey bounce and slid right through the empty crease where Nikita Kucherov swooped in to tap it home. Stralman and Nabokov were credited with the assists and the time of the goal was 6:35.

If anybody thought the one goal might be enough, almost understandable considering how both goalies had been playing, their bubble was burst at 12:03 when John-Michael Liles tied it for Carolina, getting assists from Riley Nash and Andrej Sekera.

The clock continued to run and just when it was pretty apparent that things were headed to overtime and possibly an extended shootout, last-minute heroics presented themselves in the form of the second big Carolina error of the night. With :30.6 seconds remaining, Kucherov attempted to pass from the left circle to Tyler Johnson on the right side of the net. The puck hit Carolina defender Ron Hainsey's skate and deflected past Ward for the game winner. Alex Killorn and Matthew Carle picked up assists on the play.

Fortunate bounces or not, it's doubtful the Lightning come out on top in this without an outstanding effort from beginning to end by Nabokov.

"He's an unbelievable teammate. He works extremely hard in practice. Tonight was hopefully a game that can give him some confidence because he's played some really good hockey games and some of them he hasn't won because we were not able to score. It was nice to see some bounces for us and for him to get the win." - Stamkos

Having salvaged a disappointing homestand with the win (banking four of a possible eight points), the Lightning will now head out on a five-game road trip and will be in action again on Saturday when they visit the Washington Capitals. They'll return to home ice on December 23 to host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Game notes:

  • Both teams came into tonight's game on losing streaks Tampa Bay with a two-game skid and Carolina having dropped three straight.
  • The Lightning haven't lost three in a row since the beginning of March, 2014, part of what eventually stretched to a five-game streak.
  • The Lightning are now 31-19-1 all-time at home against Carolina.
  • Of the 102 goals the Lightning have scored so far this season, 37 of them have come in the third period..
  • The Lightning are now 13-2-3 when scoring first.
  • The Lightning honored Dan Campbell as the 17th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Campbell, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Metropolitan Ministries Pasco. Campbell lives a life of service dedicated to serving those in need and ending homelessness in Pasco County. His inspiration was ignited while serving at a Church camp and a young girl wearing her father's boxers asked if she could bring her lunch home to share with her family. From that day forward, Campbell has been on a mission to serve the needs of those living in poverty. He has developed partnerships to provide food, utility assistance, clothing, adult education, and after school care to those in need residing in Pasco County. His efforts have impacted over 30,000 families in need and attracted over 10,000 volunteers to help carry out his mission. Tonight's Lightning Community Hero has generated community support to open a new commercial kitchen that would serve 2,000 meals daily to those in need of assistance. He has also helped raise $ 1.6 million in county and state funds to build emergency shelter housing. From 2008-2011, Campbell served as President of the Coalition for the Homelessness in Pasco and organized the Ten-Year plan to End Homelessness in Pasco. Campbell's choice for donation, Metropolitan Ministries, is a faith-based and community supported non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides care services for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless with operations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, and Pasco counties.