TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning handed the Carolina Hurricanes their first shutout loss of the season in a 3-0 final.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves on 25 shots, and for the first time this season, the Canes suffered consecutive losses.
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There was a moment in the third period when Jaccob Slavin threaded a pass to Warren Foegele on the backdoor. It was a perfect seam pass that eluded defending sticks and set Foegele up for a grade-A scoring opportunity. Foegele didn't get much lift on the puck, but Andrei Vasilevskiy still moved laterally to stretch out his left pad and make the save.
It was just that kind of night for the Canes.
Video: CAR Recap: Nedeljkovic makes 25 saves in 3-0 loss
It took some time for the Canes to get to their game - and, ultimately, the Lightning took advantage of that and forced the Canes to chase the game for much of the evening - but even when they did and began to generate some offense late in the second and into the third period, Vasilevskiy shut the door to earn his first clean sheet of the season.
"He's a good goaltender. We had our chances," Jaccob Slavin said. "There are no excuses to be made on why we can't play the full 60 minutes. It's just a matter of doing it."
Plus: Alex Nedeljkovic
Four nights ago, Nedeljkovic earned his first career shutout in the National Hockey League, and he did so with 24 saves on 24 shots against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Though he couldn't keep the Lightning off the board for a second straight game, he did put forth another solid effort.
When the Canes were floundering in their own zone, especially in the first period, Nedeljkovic bailed his team out more often than not. When the Canes had their first power play of the game in the second period, they surrendered a breakaway chance and a 2-on-1 rush, and Nedeljkovic responded on both occasions.
It's a shame to see such a stout goaltending performance go to waste, but again, it was just that kind of night for the Canes, and the guy at the opposite end of the ice was on his game, as well.
"[Nedeljkovic] was great. He kept us in there," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He made some big saves. Good for him. Too bad we kind of wasted it."
Minus: The start
A lackluster start spelled trouble for the Canes on Monday, and the story was the same tonight. Tampa again came out the more aggressive bunch and asserted their game early, which forced the Canes on their heels.
Victor Hedman fed Ross Colton in the slot for the opening goal in Colton's NHL debut, and later in the first period, Blake Coleman scored in transition on the power play to double the Lightning's lead. That's all the offense they needed.
Video: "Our starts are what have been killing us."
"Our starts are what's been killing us the last couple [of games]. It's hard to come back in this league, especially against one of the best. You can't put yourself in too big of a hole," Jordan Staal said. "I thought we did get some chances towards the second and third and started creating some plays, but it's too little, too late sometimes. It's too little too late sometimes. We have to have a better start and be ready on time."
5: Slavin recorded a season-high five shots on goal. He finished the night with a game-high eight shot attempts.
86%: Sebastian Aho won six of seven faceoffs. As a team, the Canes won 64% of draws in the game.
Quote of the Night
"Against a team of that caliber, you have to be able to do it the right way the whole time. We have to get to our game and what makes us successful from the drop of the puck and not wait until it's too late." - Jaccob Slavin
This four-game series concludes on Thursday night with a rematch at Amalie Arena.
"What's best is that we have this team again tomorrow. We're going to get right back at it and show them our best," Staal said. "It's nice that we're going to get right back at it tomorrow and hopefully get a win."