There were two main factors that led to this Lightning loss: a bad start and the play of Carolina goalie James Reimer.
During the opening seven and a half minutes of the game, the Lightning poorly executed two separate line changes. The first of those resulted in a minor penalty for too many men on the ice. Thirty-eight seconds later, the Hurricanes had a 1-0 lead. On the second one, Carolina countered on an odd-man rush - Jordan Martinook finished a open chance from the slot to extend the Carolina lead.
The eventual winning goal for the Hurricanes occurred with just seconds left in the period. Jaccob Slavin perfectly deflected a Sebastian Aho shot into the net. That late goal gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead after one period.
But well before the Slavin goal, the Lightning had begun pushing back. In fact, after Carolina's second goal, they pushed back hard for the rest of the game. They owned nearly all of the puck possession, shots, and scoring chances. For the game, the Lightning outshot Carolina, 38-24. Shot attempts were 73-41 in favor of the Lightning. But James Reimer gave his team a terrific performance. He finished with 36 saves, including a number of stops on Grade-A Lightning scoring chances.
So Reimer's goaltending certainly played a role in the outcome. But he wasn't the whole story. The Lightning's early issues with line changes put them in a hole. A hole out of which they couldn't climb.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- James Reimer - Hurricanes. 36 saves.
- Sebastian Aho - Hurricanes. Goal and assist.
- Tyler Johnson - Lightning. Goal. Five shots.