Tampa Bay’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes was steeped in a playoff atmosphere. From the opening puck drop to the horn signaling the end of regulation, Tampa Bay and Carolina held nothing back. A heightened pace, hard hits, chippiness, and a sense of urgency emanated from both teams on every shift. The Lightning held the edge for most of the first and second period, but Carolina surged in the third. Alex Killorn and Brayden Point notched goals for the Lightning while Andrei Svechnikov and Brady Skjei scored for the Hurricanes. Andrei Vasilevskiy had another strong night in net with 25 saves on 27 shots. Petr Mrazek was every bit as stellar for Carolina with 32 saves on 35 shots.
Given how inconsistent Tampa Bay’s game has been over the past few weeks it was a welcome sight to see them not only keep up with Carolina’s aggression but apply a healthy dose of their own. The Lightning’s biggest struggle, early on, stemmed from Carolina’s forecheck limiting Tampa Bay’s zone exits.
However, after slowing their zone exits down and focusing on connecting with shorter passes, Tampa Bay found a way to transition more effectively. Eventually, it forced Carolina to get a little too comfortable and led the way for Killorn’s 12th goal of the season.
The Lightning didn’t relent as the game progressed and they dominated the second period for long stretches of time. Tampa Bay earned a power-play at 1:26 as Vincent Trochek held Anthony Cirelli. They didn’t waste much time capitalizing on the opportunity.
Brayden Point’s 300th NHL point came in his 340th NHL game, tying Brian Bradley for 11th on the Lightning’s all-time scoring list. Expect to see the young center continue climbing Tampa Bay’s all-time list in the coming years. He’s only getting started.
Tampa Bay’s surge was dampened as Erik Cernak took an interference penalty at 9:53. Carolina converted 10 seconds into the man advantage.
This didn’t deter the Lightning though as they resumed dominating play for the remainder of the period with great scoring chances by Cirelli, Maroon, and Point.
#TBLightning lead #Canes 2-1 after 40 minutes— Matthew S Esteves (@MatthewSEsteves) April 20, 2021
Scoring Chances: 16
HD Chances: 6
Scoring Chances: 9
HD Chances: 5
Let's hope this version of TB is here to stay. An even stronger period even w/ allowing a PP goal. pic.twitter.com/cz5gyq8TSY
Carolina turned the tables entering the third period, quickly tying the game with Skjei’s second goal of the season.
There has been plenty of optimism surrounding Alex Barre-Boulet given his AHL production, but it’s hard to see him making an impact at the NHL level (not even considering this horrid turnover). Still, maybe all he needs is a little more time and understanding. I remain hopeful, but too often I see him losing puck battles and getting outmuscled in the corners.
Carolina’s surge continued until another penalty on Cernak put the Hurricanes back on the power-play at 6:48. Tampa Bay was effectively killing the penalty when a player no one expected to lay a thunderous hit did just that and sent those in attendance into a frenzy.
This sequence from Alex Killorn...huge hit on Martin Necas, fights Jake Gardiner and then fires up the crowd pic.twitter.com/UZDwvCgelK— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 20, 2021
Killorn fought Jake Gardiner immediately after this hit and more than showed up for himself before playing the entire sequence up for the crowd. I expected some form of response from Carolina, but it never came. The Hurricanes’ momentum didn’t completely deflate after this sequence, but Tampa Bay started to wrest control back afterward.
Unfortunately, regulation didn’t solve anything as Vasilevskiy and Mrazek made stellar saves to keep the game tied.
That only remained for one netminder during overtime though.
Carolina had an odd propensity for brainfarting in certain scenarios this evening, and it was bewildering for a team that is usually so defensively sound. It happened on Killorn’s goal, it happened on a slew of scoring chances, and it happened here on Gourde’s goal. I honestly do not know what Brett Pesce was thinking here. It’s one thing to trail Gourde, but to just bail on covering him is a brazen lapse of judgment and is the biggest reason why Gourde scores here.
After weeks of inconsistent play, and entering tonight’s game 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, it was a welcome change to see the Lightning control play so much this evening. In all situations, the Lightning controlled 54% of the shot attempts, out-chanced Carolina 35-26, led in high danger chances 17-8, and dominated the expected goals battle at 66%. For a team like Carolina to be outplayed that severely in areas they normally dominate is telling. The Lightning found their footing this evening and one can only hope they continue to play like this to close out the season.