The Carolina Hurricanes have evaded going down 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning with a Game 3 overtime win from the stick of Sebastian Aho on a power play. The series is now 2-1 in favor of the Lightning after the 3-2 loss in overtime at Amalie Arena. The Lightning played really well all game, getting the better of the chances and looking terrifying on the power play, but they missed on a couple crucial chances with the man advantage.
Nikita Kucherov took two penalties, and sat in the penalty box as the Canes won the game, but finished with a beautiful pair of primary assists. Brayden Point and Alex Killorn scored the two goals for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 27 shots while his counterpart Petr Mrazek saved 35 of 37. Aho scored two for the Canes, with Brett Pesce getting another in the win.
Game 4 is Saturday at 4pm in Amalie Arena.
The two teams were feeling each other out in the first several minutes of the game. There were a few partial rush chances going each way as a result of neutral zone turnovers, but things started to get exciting when Victor Hedman nearly scored off a Barclay Goodrow pass from the rush after the big defenseman jumped into the play.
The Canes went the other way for their own decent chance, with Point getting a chance in front of the net on the next shift in response.
Anthony Cirelli had two good chances before getting piled on after reaching for a rebound before the whistle was called. After an early shot deficit, the Lightning jumped out to a 6-3 shots lead a little over 10 minutes into the period.
Erik Cernak and Andrei Svechnikov got into a shoving match within the final few minutes in the period and it caused a bit of a kerfuffle. Nikita Kucherov and Sebastian Aho also got into something of a conversation behind the net.
Oh no! Kucherov and Brett Pesce almost start a line brawl! It started when Ondrej Palat stood up Teuvo Teravainen, and then Kucherov blindsided Pesce in the neutral zone. The two got into a shoving match and the two sides congregated in the middle of the rink. Only Kucherov got a penalty: the original interference call.
The fans in the rink were quite heated and drenched the ice in either boos or cheers depending on whether the Canes were holding the puck or getting hit by a Bolt. What an amazing home atmosphere on the penalty kill.
The period ended with another light scrum.
- Shot attempts: 15-18 (45%)
- Shots on goal: 10-9
- Scoring chances: 11-12
- Expected goals: 0.65-0.82 (44%)
The Lightning had a good middle of the period, but the Canes had a flurry at the end of their power play that gave them the gap in shots and chances. Overall, it was a decent period for the Lightning. You could feel the intensity, but also the frustration, ratcheting up. The Bolts were getting lots of chances right in front of the net — first chances and rebounds — which was encouraging to see.
And of course it would be Pesce who’d score the first goal of the game. The Canes had a big first shift to start the second, hemming the Lightning in for a long portion and taking six shots on net. It ended up being a rush chance that broke the tie as Svechnikov stopped up at the right faceoff circle and dropped the puck off for Pesce to take a shot from distance. The one-timer went right through Ondrej Palat’s five hole and up and over Vasilevskiy, who just missed it. Aho got the second assist.
Aho then got released for a breakaway behind Kucherov and beat Vasy five-hole to double the lead. The long pass up the ice by Jaccob Slavin was deflected to Aho by Teravainen. It was a sneaky great play that split Kucherov and Hedman.
Slavin with the stretch pass, Teravainen with the touch pass in the neutral zone, and Aho with the score.— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 4, 2021
Another 5-on-5 goal for the Hurricanes against Vasilevskiy pic.twitter.com/1PgIIDv8H4
Point fed Kucherov for a chance the other way after the goal, what followed was Aho knocking down Kucherov as the two were heading to the rebound and Aho getting a penalty.
Point made no mistake on the power play to get the Bolts back in it! What an amazing passing play by the first unit. Kucherov, cross-ice to Stamkos, who sent it right back to the middle of the ice for a wide-open Point. Hedman did a great job of holding the line before that. What an unreal power play.
The Lightning power play is so dynamic pic.twitter.com/3OHkNy0vzW— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 4, 2021
That ended a streak of three goals in four minutes with the Canes coming out ahead.
The Lightning tied the game with another power play goal, this time from Alex Killorn, after Brady Skjei hooked Point behind the net. Kucherov had the best chance from in front of the slot, but Mrazek sent the rebound into the corner. Kuch got his own rebound, spun, and threw the puck back into the middle, where Killorn had taken up the space and buried the chance.
The Lightning power play strikes once again, this time it's Alex Killorn to tie the game pic.twitter.com/NwCnbMUdkG— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 4, 2021
The Lightning then headed into the second intermission newly tied after being down for about half the period.
- Shot attempts: 19-15 (56%)
- Shots on goal: 9-9
- Scoring chances: 13-9
- Expected goals: 1.15-0.53 (68%)
The Bolts came back really strong after giving up the two goals. Sure, the goals came on the power play, but the Lightning were dominating shots and piling on consistent pressure. Now the game is tied heading into the third where anything can happen.
Warren Foegele left the ice sometime in the second period with an injury, pushing the Canes down to 11 forwards. It was reported during the second intermission that he wouldn’t return. He’s a third absentee along with second line center Vincent Trocheck and top-six winger Nino Niederreiter.
Foegele out for the night, per Canes. That's third forward out with Trocheck and Nino— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) June 4, 2021
The Lightning had a barn-storming first half of the third period, catching the Canes off-guard with nine shots attempts to only two by the other side. The Bolts honestly looked like they were playing from behind, even though the game was tied. The Canes appeared to be caught off guard, somehow trying to hold on to the tie game. Shots ballooned to 29-19 in favor of the Lightning.
The Lightning had their offense slowed in the second half of the period, and were even caught off guard by Jordan Staal, who had a heart stopping chance after cutting into the middle off a rush.
With less than two minutes left, Steven Stamkos had allegedly beaten out an icing call, but the lineman (who had been under the ire of both coaches all game) called it all the way back into the Lightning defensive zone.
And then the heart rate spiked up as Dougie Hamilton took a tripping penalty with just over a minute left. The first unit was buzzing, and nearly scored a couple times, but they just quite couldn’t push the puck across the line.
The two teams then went to overtime for the first time in the series.
- Shot attempts: 13-11 (54%)
- Shots on goal: 7-5
- Scoring chances: 9-5
- Expected goals: 0.49-0.12 (80%)
The Lightning were the better team in the first half and then at the very end of the period. The Canes held on as much as they can and then counterattacked when they could. It’s going to be important to keep the pressure on so things don’t swing the other way in overtime.
The Lightning started the overtime with 53 seconds carry-over in the Hamilton penalty from the third period. They had a good shift in the offensive zone, but no real chances other than a half chance from Stamkos.
Off a point shot from Jan Rutta, Point found the lost rebound all alone in front of the net while the Canes defenders kind of spread out to cover people. Point nearly dangled past Mrazek, but the goalie stuck out his right pad.
Kucherov then got called for holding the stick, giving the Canes their second power play of the game, both coming with Kucherov in the box.
Aho wins it on the power play.
Sebastian Aho for the win in overtime pic.twitter.com/TN6kChH9mH— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 4, 2021
Full time 5v5 stats
- Shot attempts: 53-46 (54%)
- Shots on goal: 30-24
- Scoring chances: 38-28
- Expected goals: 2.54-1.80 (59%)
It was a close game the whole way, though the Lightning were much better in the second half after getting scared by those two goals against. They played well, they were the better team, but it was a power play in overtime where the Canes executed their plan for the win.
Overall, I think the Lightning are the better team, and even with the high variance that is the NHL playoffs, the players on the ice have the peace of mind to hold firm to their game plan, execute it, and not panic, even with the series a lot closer than it could’ve been. We talked after Game 1 that this was going to be a really tough fight, and it has been with three one-goal wins and close play throughout.