Game 3: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning were looking to bounce back from their loss on Long Island, and they did.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes at their home opener 4-1.

The Lightning had a much better game than they did on Long Island. They were better organized, and had better overall team defense. They improved in the neutral zone and played a tighter game than yesterday.

Mathieu Garon had a great game, stopping 34 of 35 shots coming his way. There were times when he looking a bit scrambley, but he came up with some big saves, particularly towards the end of the game. He was a big reason why the Lightning won by a three-goal margin.

Another reason Tampa Bay won was their captain, Vincent Lecavalier. He was one of the best players on the ice, hands down. He set up the first two goals in the game, one for Tom Pyatt and the other for rookie Cory Conacher, to get his team an early lead.

Tom Pyatt goal 22 Jan 2013 Tampa Bay Lightning vs Carolina Hurricanes NHL Hockey (via Fred Murtz)

Speaking of Conacher, he now has two goals and three assists in his first three NHL games. Keith Aulie scored his first goal in a Lightning uniform as well. And Ryan Malone finished out the scoring with a goal at the end that was set up by a Sami Salo shot.

While the Lightning were great about keeping the penalties down in the first, that came back to bite them early in the second. They were killing off a 5-on-3 when Carolina scored, making the game a much closer 2-1 at the time. However, that was as close as the Hurricanes were going to come to the Lightning on the score sheet.

Overall, it was a stronger game than the one they had yesterday. They weren't perfect, and they looked a little tired towards the end, but it was definitely better. You should see improvement with every game as this shortened season moves along.

The Lightning's next game is Friday, 25 January. Game time is 7:30 pm ET, and the Lightning are expected to honor Lecavalier for his 1000th career NHL game played, which happened on the road. If you're unable to attend the game, the Raw Charge game thread will be available at 7 pm.

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