Analysis from Tampa Bay
→ On just their 16th shot of the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored a 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes, who had to settle for a point in one of their better efforts of the season. Victor Hedman's second of the game was scored in 3-on-3 action, while Noah Hanifin, Derek Ryan and Jay McClement tallied goals for the Hurricanes.
"I thought for the most part we carried the play. We got a big shorthanded goal to tie it up late," Lee Stempniak said. "They capitalized on their chances. They have some dangerous players, and if you give them room they can make you pay."
→ In the third period, the Lightning were the more opportunistic team, as they scored twice to grab a one-goal lead late. Tyler Johnson tied the game on a generous deflection off his leg alongside of the net. The Canes challenged on the basis of an offside zone entry, but replay showed that Johnson dragged his back skate to just remain onside. Then, after the Hurricanes killed off a penalty, Nikita Kucherov was left alone in front, and he buried his 27th goal of the season to put the Lightning, who were being vastly out-shot, up by a goal.
But, just as they had all game, the Hurricanes didn't let adversity negatively affect their game. Though Teuvo Teravainen went to the box for tripping with three-and-change left to play in regulation, the Canes grabbed ahold of the puck and controlled possession. Jaccob Slavin handled the puck at the point, and his shot was deflected in front by McClement, who was somehow left by his lonesome on a 5-on-4 man disadvantage.
"We got a kill, and on top of that kill we got a shorthanded goal," head coach Bill Peters said.
"Part of the maturity as a group is to control play and make sure you're not beating yourselves. They didn't have a ton of shots, but a lot of the shots they did have were very good chances," Stempniak said. "For us, it's a matter of eliminating those and just finding a way to hold on to this win."
→ Just hours after the trade deadline passed, the Hurricanes played one of their best first periods all season. It only figured, then, that despite owning a 9-0 shot advantage and controlling the pace of play, the Hurricanes were whistled for the game's first penalty. It was Slavin, no less, who was whistled for just his fifth minor penalty of the year, a questionable tripping call along the near boards. The Lightning took advantage of the early power play, as Hedman's wrister gave the home team the 1-0 lead.
"You don't change a thing, right? It's a tough way to start a game," Peters said. "That call, I don't think that's the call you want to make for the first penalty of a National Hockey League game. But it is what it is." "You don't change anything. You keep playing."
To their credit, the Hurricanes didn't let the early setback deflate their effort. If anything, it gave them even more jump.
Four minutes after Hedman's goal, Noah Hanifin set up for a point shot off a faceoff win and scored on a shot that made its way through bodies and sticks to the back of the net.
Shortly after, the Hurricanes earned a power play of their own when Derek Ryan was cross-checked by Hedman. On the ensuing power play, Ryan's snap shot from the near side beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to put the Canes up 2-1.
"I thought we had a great start. We were all over them. They probably weren't at their best, and they picked up play as it went along," Stempniak said. "I thought we did a good job of generating offense, maybe not as much as the game went on but especially early on. You'd like to find a way to win those games."
The Hurricanes would go on to prevent the Lightning from registering a 5-on-5 shot until there was just 2:35 left in the first period. Carolina carried an 18-4 shot advantage and a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard into the first intermission, one of their most complete 20-minute efforts of the season.
"I look at our day yesterday in Sunrise. We traded a guy basically at the pregame meal, and we came out flat. They traded a guy this afternoon, and they came out flat. They're humans, so it has an impact on you," Peters mused. "I think that explains their start somewhat, and then I thought the game was well-played in the next 45 minutes, whatever it was."
→ Forwards Andrej Nestrasil and Patrick Brown were recalled from Charlotte today, with forwards Jeff Skinner and Brock McGinn sidelined with upper-body injuries. It was Nestrasil's first game back with the Hurricanes since Jan. 3 and Brown's first action with the big club this season.
"There are always guys who want to step up and play in this league," Eddie Lack said.
"Brownie showed a lot of speed. He'll be an interesting one. I hope we can get him in enough games to really get a fair evaluation on him to see where he fits moving forward," Peters said. "You know what you're going to get out of Nesty. I thought he came in and did a good job along the walls. He gave us 10 good minutes."
→ As strange as it sounds, the Hurricanes will next play a home-and-home set against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes come to Raleigh for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop on Friday before the two teams head back West for a Sunday evening match-up in Glendale.
"There are no moral victories. We sort of found success for stretches of the game, so we know how to play," Stempniak said.