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Tampa Bay Lightning find their offense in 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes

Alex Barré-Boulet made his NHL debut

NHL: SEP 17 Preseason - Hurricanes at Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning found the back of the net against the Carolina Hurricanes. Four different Bolts scored as they battled back from an early deficit to defeat the first place Canes, 4-2. Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning, who snapped a two-game losing streak, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves.

Coach Jon Cooper shook things up a little, hoping to find the right combination to get the offense back on track. He inserted rookie Alex Barré-Boulet into the lineup and mixed up his lines. For the first time since the Restart last season, he broke up the Yanni Gourde/Barclay Goodrow/Blake Coleman line.

The new lines:

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Blake Coleman

Mathieu Joseph - Tyler Johnson - Steven Stamkos

Alex Killorn - Yanni Goude - Alex Barré-Boulet

Patrick Maroon - Barclay Goodrow - Alex Volkov

Carolina started their third different goaltender against the Lightning in three games as veteran James Reimer was between the pipes.

First Period

The rookie was on the ice for the first solid scoring opportunity by the Lightning. Yanni Gourde’s line won an offensive zone faceoff and Alex Killorn is able to find some space in front of the net. His backhander hit the goalie, but the Bolts could not jam home a rebound with the puck flittering around in front of Reimer.

For the first half of the period, the Lightning’s mindset was obvious - get the puck on net. They generated eleven shot attempts at even strength though the first nine minutes. They played at a much quicker pace then they did against the Hurricanes on Saturday, attacking more directly than they have in the last few games. Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson both generated prime chances when they were able to knife directly down the middle of the ice, Point’s shot was stopped while Johnson wasn’t able to get the shot off after getting behind the defense.

One of the teams best chances came from the fourth line (with Barclay Goodrow centering). Mikhail Sergachev fired at a loose puck in front of Reimer as he was falling to the ice. The Carolina netminder sold out to stop the shot and left the net rather undefended. Unfortunately, Alex Volkov wasn’t able to get his stick on the puck and it skittered under the fallen goalie.

The Lightning did have a couple of power plays that were unsuccessful in the sense they didn’t result in a goal, but the first unit did generate a few prime chances that came close. With the amount of pressure the Lightning were putting on the Canes, there was a sense that a goal was coming.

It did. Just not for Tampa Bay.

With Steven Stamkos in the box for slashing, it looked like the Bolts were well on their way to killing off another penalty, but just as the penalty expired Martin Necas fired a shot at the net and Jespar Fast was able to maintain position in front of Vasilevskiy and tucked the puck past the goaltender to give the Canes the first period lead. It was an even strength goal so the penalty kill is still perfect over the last four games. Silver linings.

Jesper Fest (Martin Necas, Jake Bean)

The goal allowed Carolina back into the game and play for the rest of the period was fairly even. The Lightning didn’t record another shot on net for the rest of the period and had only one shot attempt. It came from Alex Killorn who was sprung on a semi-breakaway off of a long pass from Barré-Boulet.

Second Period

The Lightning started the period with a nifty little give-and-go between Victor Hedman and Brayden Point. They didn’t score but they did draw a penalty. For the majority of the power play the Lightning kept the puck in the zone and found a few prime chances including a point shot from Hedman that he 4-ironed into the netting behind the goal.

The sustained possession finally led to a goal. It was, who else, Steven Stamkos. It wasn’t a fancy play, in fact it’s a play they’ve scored on numerous times. Get the puck to Stamkos somewhere on the left side of the ice. The captain slammed a one-timer from the top of the left circle past James Reimer.

Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat)

Carolina responded with a couple of solid shifts that forced Vasilevskiy to make several sharp saves. Slowly, the Lightning worked to regain their advantage on the ice and the offense was led by the defense.

Erik Cernak tried his best Bobby Orr impersonation with an attempted wraparound. Reimer was there to make the stop. While that Lightning defenseman wasn’t able to score, another one was. The Lightning won an offensive zone faceoff and Mikhail Sergachev made a nice move to the center of the ice and allowed Hedman to move into open space. Once the puck was on the Big Swede’s stick, he didn’t hesitate and snapped a wrister past Reimer on the short side.

Victor Hedman (Mikhail Sergachev, Steven Stamkos)

Carolina wasn’t going to wave the surrender flag just because the Lightning finally scored against them. They kept Tampa Bay pinned in the defensive zone for a lengthy period and were able to generate several opportunities off of the cycle. Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his paycheck over that extended period, as he made several more key saves. He was helped out by his defense, especially Sergachev, who kept the front of his net clear.

With under two minutes to go in the period, Victor Hedman was whistled for holding after Nino Niedereiter faked a shot. Hedman stumbled into him and was called for the infraction despite not really grabbing the Carolina forward. He wasn’t super happy about the call. After the Canes scored, he was even more upset, in an understated Swedish kind of way.

It was Fast once again finding the puck in close off of a rebound. He was able to roof the puck over an outstretched Vasilevskiy. The penalty kill was no longer perfect over the last four games.

Jesper Fast (Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton)

Disappointed with their performance on the penalty kill, the Lightning immediately went shorthanded again when Point played the puck with his hand on the ensuing faceoff. Tampa Bay survived a barrage of shots in the last 44 seconds of the period as Carolina pushed for the go ahead goal.

Third Period

The Lightning benefited from the intermission as they came out and calmly killed off the remaining 76 seconds of the penalty. Ondrej Palat drew a penalty shortly after they returned to even strength when Pesce upended him on a drive to the net.

The power play sputtered along as the Lightning struggled to gain entry into the zone on several occasions and the two minutes passed uneventfully. The two teams traded chances for the next few minutes before the new top line trapped the Hurricanes in their own zone.

Point and company kept an exhausted group of Canes out on the ice and Ondrej Palat was able to bounce a puck off of a skate and by Reimer to give the Lightning the lead. It wasn’t the prettiest goal he’s ever scored, but it was an important one as it gave the Lighting a 3-2 lead with less than 12 minutes to play in the game.

Ondrej Palat (Jan Rutta, Brayden Point)

Carolina responded by picking up the pressure, but the Lightning handled things really well. Mathieu Joseph made a really nice read to break up a cross-ice pass to a Hurricane defender that was trying to cut to the back post. Still, with as much talent as Carolina has, they were bound to find some space and it was Andrei Svechnikov who ended up alone in front of the net after Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over. Svech’s shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy who was in perfect position to make the save.

The siege continued for the Hurricanes, briefly interrupted by a good shift by the Gourde line, and they kept firing pucks at Vasilevskiy. His teammates were able to block a fair amount of shots and clear rebounds or loose pucks to the corners or to the boards, which forced Carolina to reset their offense.

Eventually, Alex Killorn was able to get the puck in the neutral zone and the veteran winger raced into the Hurricanes zone before firing the puck into the empty net. The goal ended a five-game pointless streak for KIllorn. Vasilevskiy had to make one last save at the buzzer to pick up the win.

The two teams head to Tampa for back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday.