The Tampa Bay Lightning lost the second game in a row on Saturday night. The game basically went on the same scenario as the previous one – the Lightning earned a 2-0 lead, but allowed the opponent to storm back with three goals during the second period. The Lightning managed to tie the game in the third period, but allowed a decisive goal in late minutes of the game.
The fourth line was the most effective for the Lightning that night. They created two goals for their team, including a tying goal in the second period from Mathieu Joseph. Ross Colton recorded his fifth point in eight NHL games and Pat Maroon had a two-point night. After scoring a goal in the first period Maroon has now scored against every franchise in the NHL.
After this loss, the Hurricanes reduced the gap between two teams in the standings and now sitting just one point behind the Lightning, while have one game in a hand.
Unlike on Thursday’s night, when the Lightning didn’t get any power play opportunity, this time they received their first man advantage just 17 seconds into the game. Old friend Cedric Paquette was called for high-sticking in the Lightning defensive zone, giving the second-best power play unit in the league a chance to open the score. The Lightning however didn’t create much on that power play as the Canes had been constantly pushing them out of the zone and the Bolts had just two good scoring chances during this two minutes but weren’t able to capitalize on them.
Eventually the Lightning scored, but some moments after their power play expired. Barclay Goodrow won the battle for the puck alongside the boards, sent it to the opposite side of the rink, where Jan Rutta picked it up and fired towards the net. Blake Coleman appeared in right moment in front of James Reimer, redirecting the puck into the net and giving his team a 1-0 lead.
The Lightning didn’t stopped there and just two minutes after scoring the first goal extended their lead. A puck went bouncing after some turmoil behind the Canes net, Reimer covered it for a second, but it leaked through his glove to Ross Colton, who kicked the puck to free space in front of the net. Maroon was faster than the opposite teams defenders and scored another goal for the Lightning.
After having achieved a comfortable lead, the Lightning have slowed down a little bit and Carolina started getting more chances on the opposite net. In the second half of the period they had a pretty dangerous power play opportunity, during which they recorded seven shot attempts and five scoring chances. The Lightning had it covered but the Hurricanes showcased a good puck movement and threatening dynamics on that man advantage.
The score could have easily been 2-1 by the end of the period, if not Andrei Vasilevskiy, who once again proved why he’s considered as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Jaccob Slavin was left unnoticed in front of the net, Vasilevskiy stopped his shot and immediately managed to react to Martin Necas’ shot off the rebound, denying it with his skate.
After a disaster start, when the Canes allowed two goals in five opening minutes of the game, they managed to bounce back and got very close to the Lightning’s net. Statistically the Lightning controlled a possession this period with 56.3% shot share at 5v5, but the Canes were better at shot quality with 59.7% expected goals share.
The second period also opened with an early goal, but this time it was Carolina, who got on the scoreboard. Two minutes into the game they started a rush on delayed penalty, Necas threw a puck past Luke Schenn to Paquette, who accelerated through middle of the ice and sniped the puck into the net. Vasilevskiy almost stopped it, but the puck sneaked out of his glove and crossed the line.
Just like the Lightning had a very fast start of the first period, the Canes managed to score two goals in the five opening minutes of the second period. A minute after cutting the Lightning’s lead to one goal, the Canes tied the game. The Lightning were caught up during a change. Goodrow couldn’t handle a puck after Borgman’s pass, Necas grabbed it, rushed on the left side of the ice and fed Nino Niederreiter with a pass into the slot. Niederreiter made a fake swing and set up Sebastian Aho with a perfect opportunity for equaliser.
After tying the game the Hurricanes kept pressuring the opponent and controlling the pace of the game. They also did a good job at getting under the skin of Lightning’s players, especially Blake Coleman’s, who spent four minutes in penalty box in the second period. The second Coleman’s penalty turned out to be successful for Carolina. Andrei Svechnikov shot the puck from the top of left circle, the shot got deflected off Sebastian Aho’s back and rebounded to Necas, who sniped it past Vasilevskiy. Necas recorded his third point of the night and gave his team a 3-2 lead.
Carolina dictated the pace of the second period, outplaying the opponent in most aspect of the game. The Lightning again were better at in shot share with 57.7% CF% and had a slight advantage in high-danger scoring chances at even strength 5-4, but the score were 3-2 in favor of Carolina.
According to already established tradition, the third period started with another early goal. Mathieu Joseph forced a turnover alongside the boards and then immediately skated towards the net to finish a sequence he started, scoring off a Pat Maroon’s pass. It was the second goal by the Lightning’s fourth line.
An equaliser goal didn’t give the Lightning some additional energy, in fact it worked quite the opposite way as the Hurricanes started looking even more aggressive after allowing a goal. Carolina were a clearly better team in the third period, constantly pushing the Lightning back into their own zone and disrupting their attacking attempts in early stages. The Canes were also very effective on forecheck, forcing turnovers close to the opponent’s net.
Another issue that accompanied the Lightning during the whole game, was taking too many penalties. They survived two very dangerous opportunities in the third period, but failed on a third attempt. Dougie Hamilton delivered the puck to Martin Necas, who beat Vasilevskiy with a long-distance shot. The puck went through a traffic in front of Vasilevskiy and he probably couldn’t see the moment of the shot.
In the remaining minutes of the game the Lightning were also awarded with power play opportunity, but even after pulling the goalie and playing with two extra attackers they couldn’t create a solid chance and the Canes earned a deserved victory in a matchup between the two leading teams in the Central Division.
Carolina finished the game with a huge advantage in shot attempts in all situations (40-22). At 5v5 the game was pretty even, the Lightning had a moderate advantage at shot attempt differential (51.2%) and expected goal share (51.0%). However the performance of special units played a crucial role in tonight’s loss as the Lightning couldn’t capitalize on any of their four power play opportunities, while allowing two goals on penalty kill.