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Mishkin's Extra Shift: Early two-goal deficit too much to overcome for Bolts

by Dave Mishkin / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Carolina Hurricanes may be enduring a tough season, but their struggles this year have not been due to porous defense. The ‘Canes entered the game in the top half of the league in team defense. Their problem, for the majority of the season, has been scoring goals – and they rank 29th out of 30 teams in goals scored per game. But the ‘Canes have been scoring more goals of late – the return of Jordan Staal from a broken leg has helped in that regard – and they had posted a 6-2-1 record in January prior to Tuesday’s game against the Lightning.

It’s never a easy route to victory when you allow two early goals to the opposition, especially on the road. So given how well the Hurricanes defend, the early 2-0 deficit proved to be too much for the Lightning to overcome.

Both of those first period goals for Carolina came on the heels of Tampa Bay d-zone turnovers. A failure to execute a d-zone clear often leads to trouble, just as it did for the Lightning in the opening 6:05 of the game.

Down 2-0 at that point, Jon Cooper used his timeout and within a few minutes, the Lightning started dictating play. The second half of the first period was Tampa Bay’s best stretch in the game. The Bolts recorded the final 10 shots of the period and sliced the deficit to 2-1 in the process. But Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin was on his game throughout – and he prevented the Lightning from netting the equalizer.

In the second period, the Lightning got into penalty trouble. They took three successive penalties – and allowed a power play goal to Justin Faulk on the first of those chances. Even though Brian Boyle netted a shorthanded goal on the third kill, those penalties prevented the Lightning from building on the good work they did in the final 10 minutes of the first. Also included in the period were two unsuccessful Lightning power plays, a couple of opportunities that yielded very little pressure.

After another failed PP chance early in the third, the Lightning surrendered a two-on-one rush, on which Carolina reestablished a two-goal lead. Though Nikita Kucherov had a dangerous chance on the shift after the Tlusty goal, the Lightning did not generate many looks for the rest of the game.

The two early Carolina goals were very damaging. So was an ineffective power play. And following their early offensive outburst, the ‘Canes cashed in on a power play chance of their own and off an odd-man rush. Those were the ingredients in a recipe for a Lightning loss, their third straight on the road.

Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Bobby “The Chief” Taylor:

Eric Staal’s goal, which came 22 seconds into the game.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Bobby “The Chief” Taylor):

1.Anton Khudobin – Hurricanes. 28 saves.

2.Justin Faulk – Hurricanes. Goal and assist.

3.Eric Staal – Hurricanes. Goal and assist.

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