Tampa Bay Lightning Game 73: versus the Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime.

If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I'd be at all surprised that this team would go into overtime in a game, I would've laughed at you. An yet, during this game, overtime seemed like it was out of reach. Funny how things change over time like that.

They broke a five-game losing streak with this win. They didn't do it in a very convincing fashion, but they did do it and that's what matters. And a big part of the reason why is because Rick Tocchet finally did the obvious and played Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier on the same line - and then kept them together for most of the game.

Of all the puzzling on-ice things with the Lightning this season, probably the most puzzling is why Vinny & Marty haven't been playing together when they obviously play well together. The defense has been a mystery for much of the season, of course, but when both Marty & Vinny had been struggling - separately or at the same time - they weren't able to play together to jump start their offensive production. In a way it makes sense because you don't want to stack one line with all of your offense, but wasn't Tocchet doing that, anyways, with Steven Stamkos and St. Louis?

This game was similar to the last in that there wasn't a lot of notable action. The skating was good, shots were being taken, and penalties were kept to a minimum. But at times it looked more like a scrimmage than a game.

St. Louis got a couple of chances, and scored a goal. Which was nice to see, frankly. He's been setting players up (mostly Stamkos) rather than getting set up himself. Which is why he has a ton of assists but not a lot of goals this season. It was nice to see him getting the puck more so that he could finish plays.

Then the game dragged on after that. Carolina scored twice in 18 seconds and that seemed to put the lid on the game. It wasn't until Steve Downie scored his 20th goal of the season that things became interesting again.

Incidentally, Downie is the first player to get 20 goals and 200 PIM in a season since Theo Fleury did it during the 2001-2002 season. Now imagine his goal production if he'd stayed out of the box. I think that's even more impressive than the penalty minutes, actually.

St. Louis finished off the game 29 seconds into overtime on a pretty play where he skated around everyone for half the ice to wrist in a goal.

Over on the game thread, we weren't sure what to do. First of all, they'd won - which hasn't happened in a while. Then, they won in overtime, which just seemed too outrageous to be true. It got pretty goofy after that.

The next game is at the Boston Bruins Thursday, 25 March. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. Drop by the game thread; we can exchange recipes and suggest beers. (If you slog thru the end of last night's game thread, that will make a lot more sense.)

Hurricanes vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Canes Country [SB Nation Carolina Hurricanes site]

Hurricanes vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Hurricanes vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]