The final score may have been 4-3 in favor of the Hurricanes and required overtime to reach a conclusion, but don’t get confused, the Canes smoked the Lightning including the Bolts only generating two shots on goal from the final two minutes of the third period all the way through the overtime.
Curtis McElhinney did his best to keep it respectable but the skaters didn’t seem interested in doing the same.
The first two minutes of the game looked like the Canes were going to run the Lightning out of the building. The Lightning coaches apparently wanted to do some message sending by starting the fourth line. That resulted in Carolina keeping the puck in the offensive zone for almost the entire first 90 seconds of the game leading to a shot off the post by Brock McGinn and eventually a goal by Brett Pesce. Luke Witkowski, who started the game, was still on the ice because he hadn’t been able to get off the ice due to the persistent pressure.
After the goal, Carolina continued to push. They created multiple chances but just a couple minutes after their goal, the Lightning scored against the run of play on a shot from above the circles by Tyler Johnson. Petr Mrazek didn’t seem to see the shot clearly and it ended up in the back of the net turning what had been an overwhelming start from the Canes into a tie game.
The goal didn’t slow Carolina though. They created another chance on the rush. And then Erik Haula got a golden rebound off a Martin Necas shot but couldn’t beat Curtis McElhinney. At that stoppage, five minutes still hadn’t passed in the game.
Fortunately for the Lightning, the pace of the onslaught did start to slow a little bit. The Canes didn’t get their next prime chance until just over 12 minutes left in the period. This one was self inflected for the Bolts as Mikhail Sergachev coughed up the puck behind his own net to Sebastian Aho. The young star center slid the puck to Nino Neidereitter who was wide open in the slot. But again. McElhinney kep the Lightning in the game.
After that play, the Bolts started to climb back into the game. Nikita Kucherov got a prime scoring chance after recovering a loose puck in the slot. He had open space to Mrazek’s blocker side in his sights but couldn’t hit the net.
The first penalty of the game occurred with about 10 minutes left in the first as Joel Edmundson went to the box for interference after dumping Steven Stamkos in front of the net away from the play. The Lightning didn’t take long to convert as a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk fluttered through traffic and into the net giving the Bolts the lead 2-1. It appeared that Alex Killorn may have deflected it but Shattenkirk got credit.
Tampa nearly added another a few minutes later when Mathieu Joseph rifled one off the post on the rush. He had a 2 on 1 with Carter Verhaeghe, elected to shoot, and almost beat Mrazek. The Canes responded with a good chance of their own as Brock McGinn got loose again forcing another strong save from McElhinney.
The Lightning received their first penalty with five minutes left in the period as Anthony Cirelli was called for hooking. The Bolts performed well shorthanded even without Cirelli limiting the Canes chances and killing off the full two minutes.
With just over two minutes left in the period, Tampa added another goal out of nowhere. Stamkos jumped on the ice and immediately joined the play picking up the puck at the Canes blue line. He had space to skate and attacked the opening flying in and ripping a shot past Mrazek. The Canes goalie never had a chance as this generation’s best shooter got all of it and placed it perfectly. That goal would be the last major action of the period.
At the end of the first, the Canes had a dominant lead in shots and expected goals but the Lightning led on the scoreboard 3-1.
The Lightning did not have a shot on net in the second period. That should tell you everything you need to know and frankly, I’d be fine with you skipping the rest of this portion of the recap.
But for those of you who want the gory details, the period started with a Carolina penalty as Dougie Hamilton was whistled for tripping. The best chance for either team came to the Canes as they got what looked like it might be a 3 on 1 counter attack but Sergachev got back to break it up before it could become anything.
After the penalty, the Canes took control of the period. The second didn’t have the same chaotic aesthetic of the first with both teams getting big chances. Instead, Carolina just suffocated the Lightning for almost the entirety of the twenty minutes. The Bolts never seemed to be in the offensive zone while the Canes, even if they weren’t being immediately threatening, seemed to live there.
Carolina’s first big chance of the period came to one of their best players in Sebastian Aho. He had a great look on a 2 on 1 but McElhinney again saved the Bolts’ bacon. With eight minutes left in the period, Carolina drew a penalty as Jordan Staal got loose and skated in 1v1 with McElhinney. Victor Hedman got back and the last minute and broke up the rush but took a holding penalty in the process.
This time, the Carolina power play was excellent and eventually capitalized. They spent lots of time in structure creating good shots and recovering the puck. On the second half of the power play, Hamilton fired a shot from the point that McElhinney couldn’t smother. Erik Haula knocked the rebound across the line and cut the Lightning lead to 3-2.
After the goal, Carolina continued to apply pressure. Warren Foegele created two chances for himself with aggressive forechecking in the final five minutes. In between those chances, the teams spent two minutes at 4 on 4 after Stamkos took a hooking penalty and Teuvo Terravainen took a tripping penalty ten seconds later.
The last good chance came for Aho again after a terrible turnover in the defensive zone by Witkowski. McElhinney made the initial save but the Canes recovered the puck and got multiple follow up looks. The Lightning goaltender held firm though and miraculously got the team to the intermission with a lead.
After two periods, Carolina was housing the Lightning in shots and expected goals.
If you thought things would have to get better after the second period, that would be a reasonable thought to have. You would also be wrong. Because instead, the third period was more of exactly what we got in the second period. The Canes dominated the entire twenty minutes.
Four minutes into the period, the Lightning finally got their first shot since the first period when Kucherov put one on Mrazek from the point. That shot led to a rebound chance that would be the Lightning’s only other shot on net for the entire third period. So, if you’re keeping track, that’s a total of two shots on net over the final forty minutes of regulation for Tampa.
Things appeared to get even worse just over five minutes into the period when Ryan McDonagh took an awkward spill into the end boards after getting tangled up with Foegele. The Lightning defender appeared to injure his ankle but returned to the game. We’ll have to wait and see if there are any lingering effects. Foegele received a tripping penalty although it appeared to be more of a hook or a hold than a trip.
On the power play, the Lightning got one decent look for Kucherov but he couldn’t hit the net. After the power play expired, the game resumed its normal flow with Carolina dominating and the Lightning seemingly content to try to maintain their undeserved lead.
That approach eventually resulted in Braydon Coburn taking a hooking penalty in a scrum in front of the net after yet another save by McElhinney. Again, the Canes made the Lightning pay. And again, Dougie Hamilton was the catalyst from the point. This time, he got the goal himself as he beat McElhinney through traffic.
I’m running out of ways to say that the Canes controlled the game but over the next eight minutes, you get the point. With just under a minute to go, the Canes got another power play. This time, Shattenkirk went to the box on a questionable call drawn by Niederreiter.
The Lightning managed to survive regulation but over a minute of the power play carried over to overtime. At the end of the third, Carolina was putting a full on beatdown on the Bolts in terms of shots and expected goals.
The Lightning managed to kill off the rest of the penalty but had no better luck at 3v3 than they did at 5v5. Jordan Staal found Jaccob Slavin on a 2 on 1 to earn the two points.
The Lightning didn’t deserve a point for this performance. In fact, they probably deserved to lose the two points they got in the first game against Florida for how terribly they played. Everyone except Curtis McElhinney has some things to think about. Namely, how to play hockey.
The Lightning return to the ice on Thursday against another good team in Toronto. Let’s hope they show up looking better than they did tonight.