The Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off their second round series against the division winning Carolina Hurricanes with a 2-1 road win in regulation. Brayden Point opened the scoring for the Lightning on the power play, while Barclay Goodrow scored the game-winning goal in the third period. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 of 38 shots for the win, coming up huge in all three periods, but especially in the first when the Lightning had to weather a fierce storm from the Hurricanes. On the Canes side, Jake Bean scored the team’s one and only goal on the power play.
Game 2 is Tuesday at 7:30pm in Raleigh.
The Lightning had a decent start to the game, but you could feel the momentum was slowly being seeped away in the Hurricanes direction. They play with a lot of pace, the puck doesn’t stay on one players stick for very long at all, and keeping up to date on where the Bolts needed to be at all times was taking up a lot of their energy. By the middle of the first period, the Lightning were regularly being hemmed into their own zone.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was unreal to start the game. He stopped Martin Necas, Vincent Trocheck, and Andrei Svechnikov who all had great chances from the right side of the ice (from Vasy’s point of view).
Vasilevskiy stops Aho with the glove, while casually in a split. pic.twitter.com/IeKUBQQOeD— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 30, 2021
The Lightning got called for too many men when the Canes cleverly threw the puck towards their bench during a particularly messy full line change. The Lightning were able to kill it off but Trocheck got two stabs at the puck in front of the net, the second of which Vasilevskiy just kept out with his shoulder. Kucherov got called for tripping after another long defensive zone shift, but the Lightning were able to kill that one off a little better.
The Lightning rallied at the end of the period, bringing the shot different back down to a more reasonable 12-15 differential, but man, this period felt like a big shock.
- Shot attempts: 17-21 (45%)
- Shots on goal: 10-12
- Scoring chances: 7-7
- Expected goals: 0.44-1.02 (30%)
The shot numbers don’t look too bad after that first period, but it’s those expected goals that scare me. The Canes were legitimately dangerous, getting to the front of the net and getting clean looks from the wings. Whereas for Tampa Bay, they were isolated to the point and little in front of the net. They just weren’t getting in the right position for rebounds.
This was Tampa’s best chance, Cirelli early in the first and off the rush:
It was a much better start for the Lightning in the second. It started with some rush chances — particularly with one from Brayden Point — but then they were able to create some zone time and sustained pressure on the Hurricanes. With that zone time, you could see how instantly confident the five-man unit became, as the defensemen started to jump up into the rush and attack the front of the net. Erik Cernak and Victor Hedman had the biggest chances from that play.
Seven minute into the period, Brock McGinn got called for high sticking, sending the Lightning to the power play. The first half of the man advantage didn’t go great, but once the Lightning got into the zone, Hedman sent a shot from the blue line and Point smashed home the rebound from in front of the net. After a completely worrying first period, it was the Lightning who drew first blood after a hopeful start to the second. This is definitely going to be a series.
What a shot by Heddy and Point takes it home! pic.twitter.com/sTGpb8f3FH— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 30, 2021
There was a bit of an exchange of penalties in the middle of the period. First, old friend Cedric Paquette took a dumb penalty away from the puck (never change), before McGinn and Kucherov exchanged cross checks. Only Kucherov was sent to the box for retaliating. The Lightning played through the 4v4 and penalty kill before coming back to 5v5. With the Lightning now finding room in front of the net, scrums in front of goalie Alex Nedeljkovic were getting a lot more heated.
Only playoff hockey can provide plays this pretty pic.twitter.com/HCHuIW2iA4— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) May 30, 2021
Ross Colton blocked a shot with the outside of his right ankle and was in some pain. He stayed on the bench and in the game. We’ll keep an eye on that in case he has to miss any time.
Cernak got sandwiched by Trocheck and Scevnikov behind the net, and stayed on the ice for a long time. He was able to get up but went straight to the locker room. Based on the images, it looks like Cernak collided visor-on-visor with Trocheck, knocking both down, but for some reason it affected Cernak more.
Dougie Hamilton and Blake Coleman both got tripping penalties near the end of the period, with the Coleman penalty spilling into the third.
- Shot attempts: 15-13 (54%)
- Shots on goal: 8-8
- Scoring chances: 7-3
- Expected goals: 0.78-0.36 (69%)
Yeah, those numbers are nice.
Not only did the Lightning grab the lead, they eased the worry caused by the first period. Their net front defending looked much more effective, as the Canes weren’t able to get those rebounds in and around the net as well. On the other side, the Bolts created a lot of muck in front of Nedeljkovic, including the 1-0 goal.
This series is not going to be easy, but the Lightning aren’t going to be fighting uphill the whole way.
At the tail end of that Coleman power play, Jake Bean got a point shot through a double screen and past Vasilevskiy, tying the game. The Lightning defenders could’ve done a better job preventing the Canes forwards from moving through the screen zone, or pushing them out of the way faster. It was hard for Vasy to see anything.
I mostly spent the next 10 minutes sitting down watching with fistfuls of hair in my hands. Sorry for the lack of recap.
Barclay Goodrow! In his second game back from injury, Goodrow found the tiniest of holes between Nedeljkovic and the post as he and the guy who replaced him, Coleman, rode in from the wing on the forecheck. Looking at the replay, Ned tried to cover the top half, but looked caught out as the puck came at him along the ice. He shifted off his post, leaving a big gap where his pad should be. It didn’t help that his pad was in the perfect angle to deflect the puck into the net, which it did.
That's a tough one for Ned, but Tampa will obviously take it. pic.twitter.com/TEmn1R5S0D— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 30, 2021
It was then all hands on deck for the Canes as they tried to tie the game.
With two minutes left, the Canes still couldn’t pull the goalie as the Lightning were doing an amazing job holding the defensive blue line. With just over a minute to go, the Lightning won an offensive zone faceoff, killing more time on the clock. With a minute to go, the Canes had six skaters on the ice.
With 30 seconds left, Vasilevskiy stopped a long shot from Hamilton, with 15 seconds to go, he stopped another point shot from Teuvo Teravainen. Aho was stopped by Hedman and the game is over.
Full Game 5v5 Stats
- Shot attempts: 45-50 (53%)
- Shots on goal: 27-25
- Scoring chances: 19-16
- Expected goals: 1.75-1.78 (49%)
The Lightning did a great job of blocking shots and staying in the shooting lanes for Vasilevskiy. Of the 69 shot attempts the Canes put on net, the Lightning blocked 18 of them. The Canes did similarly in blocking shots for their goalie, but the biggest proportion of blocks for the Lightning came in the third period (nine of 18).
That shouldn’t discredit for a second the work Vasilevskiy did to stop pucks and stay upright on rebounds. 37 saves on 38 shots, 1.87 goals saved above expected, seven of seven from high danger, and one big W.