Jesper Fast scored his first two goals of the season, but the Carolina Hurricanes fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night at PNC Arena.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
The actual difference - the game-winning goal, the difference maker - was scored by Ondrej Palat at the 8:02 mark of the third period, a loose puck in front that he banged in off Brady Skjei, the puck trickling in over the pad of James Reimer and across over the goal line.
But, the Lightning set the tone early by establishing their game from the drop of the puck and forcing the Canes to snap into action.
Give the Canes credit, though: They survived the first period and even led heading into the intermission, and they built a game from there. The margin for error in the National Hockey League, though, is razor thin, especially against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"They took it to us in the first period. We were real fortunate to be ahead, but I give my guys a lot of credit. They realized it as a group. I think from that point on in the second and third periods, we were certainly right there with them," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We probably got what we deserved. You can't play a 40-minute game in the NHL, and you certainly can't play it against the best team in the NHL."
Plus: Jesper Fast
In his 12th game with the Canes, Jesper Fast tallied his first and second goals with his new team.
Fast's first opened the scoring at the 13:27 mark of the first period, an even-strength goal that might as well have been a power-play marker, given that Steven Stamkos had just exited the penalty box and had yet to work his way back in the play. The Canes worked the puck up the near wall to Jake Bean, who drew a defender and swung a pass over to Martin Necas. Fast banged in the loose puck off Necas' shot for his first goal with the Canes.
Video: TBL@CAR: Fast cashes in on a rebound in tight
With 44.8 seconds left in the second period, Fast drew the score even at two with an actual power-play goal, as he pounced on a rebound off a Brett Pesce shot to roof his second of the game.
Video: TBL@CAR: Fast goes upstairs for second of the game
Minus: The start
Having been shut out twice already by the Canes this season - this after they weren't shut out in 70 regular-season games or 25 playoff games in 2019-20 - Tampa Bay was the better team early, an auspicious start bolstered by two power plays and the bulk of puck possession and shots on goal.
The Canes, though, survived the early storm and then got a power play of their own - and they made it count with just their second shot on goal of the game. Even still, the Canes are cognizant of the fact that they have to play a 60-minute game in order to secure two points, especially matched up against one of the top teams in the league.
"They came out much harder than we did. We were on our heels. We weren't ready in the first period, and it kind of hurt us. You have to play a complete game against a team like this, and we didn't do that tonight," Fast said. "We know when we play a hard-nosed game and play the right way, we're a hard team to beat. We've just got to be consistent with that."
7: Jake Bean recorded a game-high seven shots on goal, including this one, where he used his shifty abilities to work into open ice and create a shooting lane.
"I always want to get as much as I can toward the net," he said. "I'm always looking to generate offense as best I can."
5: Bean also recorded the secondary assist on Fast's first goal, and he now has five assists in his last five games.
359: This marked the first regulation loss at home for the Canes in 359 days (Feb. 28, 2020 vs. COL). The Canes are now 6-1-1 at PNC Arena this season.
Quote of the Night
"They're the defending champions, and they've got that title for a reason. We need to show what we've got here. We know we can play that we need to play. We've just got to do that on a night in, night out basis." - Jake Bean
This four-game set now shifts for Tampa for back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, the start of a five-game road swing for the Canes.