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Burns: 3 Things from surviving Carolina

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 4-3 overtime win vs. Carolina

by Press Release / TampaBayLightning.com

Wednesday's performance won't win any high marks from the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff.

Heck, Lightning coaches might want to delete the game film and erase the Bolts' 4-3 overtime victory from the memory bank altogether.

The two points the Lightning earned, however, those are permanent.

Tampa Bay overcame a sluggish start, an even more sluggish finish yet still managed to escape AMALIE Arena with two points against a feisty Carolina squad. Truth be told, the Lightning probably didn't deserve to beat the Hurricanes. The Bolts said as much in the locker room after the game.

But after so many losses earlier this season when they felt like they deserved a better fate, the Bolts aren't about to apologize for stealing two points from the Canes.

What had the Lightning so upset with their play following the game?

In 3 Things, we'll examine the Bolts issues and take a closer look at how they were still able to come away with both points to pull to within three points of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Video: Cooper on Bolts 3-2 OT win over CAR

1. LACK OF SHOTS

The Lightning got a break when Eddie Lack was announced as Carolina's starter, not Cam Ward with his 21-19-8 record and .905 save percentage.

Unfortunately, the Bolts rarely tested Lack. The Canes backup saw only four shots in the first period, yet the Lightning were able to net one to trail just 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

Tampa Bay fired off only three shots in the third period, still trailing 2-1.

They scored on two of those shots to retake the lead.

"I think the boys in front of me played well tonight," Lack said after the inexplicable loss. "For two periods I was just standing there. I don't know what to say but obviously I have to look to myself. It's only 16 shots on four goals, so that's not acceptable."

The Lightning scored on their lone shot of overtime, Victor Hedman ripping a shot off a 2-on-1 break to end a trying, frustrating night at AMALIE Arena.

The Bolts managed just 16 shots total, even with the overtime, tied for their lowest shot output of the season.

"We had some really good chances," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Our shot total was low because I think we missed the net 23 times. That's a large number. They got in lanes and blocked some shots and stuff like that, but I truly believe it's one of those - I don't know if paying it forward or whatever it's called -- we've played a lot of games in the last month and a half where we felt we deserved a better fate and didn't get it and tonight was probably one where maybe it was just reversed a little bit, but we got points."

 Video: CAR@TBL: Vasilevskiy makes early strong pair of stops

2. STAYING WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE

Carolina went up 2-1 on back-to-back goals in the opening period, Noah Hanifin and Derek Ryan tallying 3:03 apart to take the lead into the first intermission.

The Hurricanes held that advantage for nearly 36 minutes.

But they couldn't extend it.

Whether because of another solid outing from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 28-of-31 saves to win his second-straight start and improve to 13-13-5 on the season, or just plain bad luck, the Hurricanes couldn't push their lead to two goals or even more when they probably deserved it.

"It was another game where Vasy had to come up huge for us just to keep it a on- goal game," Cooper said. "I think that was the difference for us was keeping it a one-goal game."

Had Carolina scored again to go up by two, the Lightning likely wouldn't have had the energy to overcome that deficit, their play so lackluster Wednesday night a two-goal deficit would have been too large a hole to climb out of.

"Tonight, we'll apologize to our fans for the performance," Hedman said, "but we won't apologize for the result. We got the two points."

 Video: CAR@TBL: Hedman snaps in his second for OT win

3. STARS SHINE BRIGHT
The Lightning's superstars showed up when needed most against Carolina, providing the Bolts with a critical two points.

Nikita Kucherov extended his goal streak to a Lightning-season-best four games, his third period tally giving the Bolts a brief 3-2 lead with less than five minutes remaining. Kucherov has recorded 12 points, including six goals, over his last four games.

"Let's just hope this is the beginning of the role," Cooper responded when asked if he's seen a better roll from Kucherov than the one he's currently on. "He's getting pucks on net, and when you're going to the net and attacking the net, good things will happen. He's earned these breaks though. He's earned this."

Tyler Johnson netted the game-tying goal midway through the third period, getting a tip on Jake Dotchin's shot from the point to make it 2-2 and breathe new life into what had been a moribund Lightning attack. Johnson finished with a season-best three points (goal, two assists) on the night.

And Victor Hedman continued to make his case for the Norris Trophy, scoring two goals, including the overtime game-winner, for his second multi-goal game in the last six games and the fourth multi-goal game of his career.

"Victor is a really, really good player in this league, exceptional player," Cooper said. "He led tonight."

Video: CAR@TBL: Kucherov lifts quick one-timer into the net

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