For much of this contest, the Lightning struggled to get into any kind of rhythm. First, the Hurricanes effectively bottled up in the Lightning, particularly in the neutral zone and the Carolina defensive end. Second, the Lightning looked a bit flat and weren't executing with the puck as crisply as they normally do. As a result, they had difficultly stringing together clean passes and enjoying extended offensive zone shifts.
However, there were two segments in which the Lightning's game clicked into place. The first occurred during a second period four-on-four. After a strong opening shift on the four-on-four, the Lightning were going through a line chance when Mathieu Joseph sprung Brayden Point on a breakaway. Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek made the initial save, but Point batted the rebound out of the air and into the net. The goal would get overturned, though. Carolina successfully challenged that the play was offside because Tyler Johnson was not completely off the ice and on the bench (and out of the offensive zone) when Point brought the puck across the blue line.
But the overturned goal didn't deflate the Lightning - it seemed to spark their game. With more spirited and physical play, the Lightning owned most of the puck possession in the second half of the second period. Still, they couldn't answer Justin Williams' goal from early in the second and still trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes.
Their other strong segment came in the final 8:04 of the third following Ondrej Palat's tying power play goal. His goal was the result of a fortunate bounce. Justin Faulk had blocked Steven Stamkos' initial shot attempt, but the puck caromed through the low slot to Palat, who swatted a rolling shot into the net. Palat's tally began a stretch in which the Lightning posted 11 unanswered shots. One more of those went in the net - Point converted on another power play at 16:45 with a quick shot from the slot. The Lightning smothered the Hurricanes down the stretch, spending most of the final minutes pressuring - and keeping - the puck in the Carolina d-zone.
In the end, the Lightning delivered about 20 strong minutes of hockey. During the other 40 minutes, they fought the puck and had trouble dealing with Carolina's structured play. But not unlike their second period on Tuesday against Columbus, a frame in which they didn't execute well with the puck but still defended hard without it, they did a good job of limiting Carolina's Grade-A chances. Andrei Vasilevskiy provided his team with some key saves on a few isolated dangerous shots, but for the most part, the Lightning didn't let the Hurricanes translate their possession advantage into a high volume of scoring chances. As a result, the Lightning were only down by a goal when they made their third period push.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Brayden Point - Lightning. Two goals and assist.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 26 saves.
- Justin Williams - Hurricanes. Goal. 300th career NHL goal.