1. Hanging On
Down 3-0 after the first period, the Hurricanes knew the Lightning would push back. And, push back they did, especially in a desperate and frantic third period.
But, the Canes' 3-0 lead was enough.
"It was a really good first period for us. It paid off in the end," Jaccob Slavin said. "We kind of hung on in the third. We got the two points, and that's what we wanted to do."
"The game was won when we came ready to play tonight," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
Did a game like that, when Tampa Bay threatens to pot three in the third, age the coach at all?
"Not when we win," he smiled.
Video: Post game speech by Rod Brind'Amour in Tampa, FL.
2. Three in the First
After starting strong but having nothing to show for it the night prior, the Canes had about as good of a first period as you could have asked for.
They scored three goals. The power play was 1-for-1. The penalty kill was 1-for-1. Reimer was excellent. That ticks just about every box.
"It was super important to get rewarded for a good period," Brind'Amour said. "I think we came out well, just like the other night when we came out well but didn't score on our chances. Tonight, we were able to capitalize."
A Tampa Bay bench minor for too many men on the ice gave the Canes an early power play, and they took advantage. Sebastian Aho scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season, first getting a piece of Andrei Svechnikov's shot and then banging the puck in on the goal line after it leaked through Curtis McElhinney.
Video: CAR@TBL: Aho scores off foot as puck rolls across
"That was huge," Brind'Amour said. "The first one was good to get us going."
With a two-point evening, Aho finished the month of November with 10 goals and six assists (16 points).
Not even three minutes later, Jordan Martinook doubled the Canes' lead with his first goal of the season. A stretch pass from Slavin caught the Lightning in the midst of a change and sprung Clark Bishop on a rush. Bishop then found Martinook wide open in the slot, and he one-timed his shot glove-side high on McElhinney.
Video: CAR@TBL: Martinook blasts quick shot from the slot
Late in the first period, after the Canes killed off their first penalty of the game, they added to their lead. Aho's point shot was redirected by Slavin in the slot - and no, that's not a typo - with just 6.7 seconds left in the period.
Video: CAR@TBL: Slavin deflects the puck into the net
"We talked about getting our shots through from the point," Slavin said of the role reversal. "Redirection. I'll take it."
3. Optimus Reim
"Return of the Mack" was blaring in the locker room after the game, which could only mean one thing: It was James Reimer's tune.
And, why not? He had himself a night to record his third straight victory, his confidence noticeable in net.
"Just competing. I lost a couple in a row, but I felt that, for the most part, I was playing pretty good. Eventually, things turn and bounces start going your way," he said. "We're just working hard as a team. You deserve wins like this when you battle as hard as we did. Everyone sacrificed."
"He looked really good tonight. Solid. He was on it," Brind'Amour said. "He was obviously the difference tonight."
Reimer's best save of the game, one that will undoubtedly find a longer shelf life on his season's highlight reel, came in the first period. Down and out on his side, Reimer threw up his left leg and kicked away Yanni Gourde's look at an empty net. A(n unconventional) kick save, and a beauty.
"Pure fluke, I think, really," Reimer laughed. "I started to front roll, back roll, butterfly, every stroke I could think of. It went behind me, and I threw up a prayer and a leg and luckily it hit me."
"He made a big first save and then laying there, flopping like a fish, got it done. I only say 'flopping like a fish' because he's right here in the room. Desperation save," Slavin said. "Heck of a game tonight by Reims."
"He was just acrobatic. You've got to do what you've got to do to try to make save," Brind'Amour said. "That looked a little old school."
In the second period, Brayden Point slid the puck to Ondrej Palat on a 2-on-1 rush, and Reimer came up with a timely, solid save.
"Reims had a lot of good saves," Slavin said. "He backed us the whole way."
The man of the hour, as Slavin called him.
4. Buckling Down in the Third
The Lightning broke Reimer's shutout in the third period with a fortuitous (for them) and/or unfortunate (for the Canes) bounce on the power play, a centering feed that changed directions off the stick of Dougie Hamilton.
"They got a lucky one on the first one," Reimer said. "They probably deserved a lucky bounce, too, with all the ones that weren't going their way."
Tyler Johnson picked a corner to bring the Lightning within a goal, but the Canes held on from there. Credit Reimer and the team defense for not giving Tampa much in the middle or on second or third chances. The Lightning out-shot the Canes 29-12 over the final 40 minutes and 15-2 in the last period.
"When it comes down to those situations, there's really no X's and O's," Reimer said. "It's just put your hard hat on, go to work and leave everything out there. We've got a team in here that's got a ton of character."
"Too many penalties, and it just took the flow right out of it. You get them going, and that was the negative of the game, really," Brind'Amour said. "But, I love the fact that we dug in. Great goaltending performance, which is huge."
5. Necas Day-to-Day with Lower-Body Injury
One of the few things that didn't go the Hurricanes way tonight? A new player on the injured list. Martin Necas went feet-first into the end boards on Friday night and was held out of Saturday's game with a lower-body injury.
"I'm hoping [he's day-to-day], but I think we'll find out more in the coming days," Brind'Amour said.
With Necas out, the Canes dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
The Hurricanes head back home for an off day on Sunday and practice on Monday before departing for Boston, where they face the Bruins on Tuesday.