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Eric Staal leads Carolina Hurricanes past Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. - Eric Staal scored with 1:36 remaining to lift the Carolina Hurricanes past the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Thursday night.

Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist, Chad LaRose also scored and Cam Ward earned his 100th NHL victory for the Hurricanes. Carolina, which had lost six of eight, played just its second home game since Jan. 6 and improved to 4-0 against the Lightning.

Mark Recchi finished with a goal and an assist, and Ryan Malone also scored for Tampa Bay, which was denied its first four-game winning streak since November 2007.

Staal, the Hurricanes' all-star centre, capped the critical flurry of late activity that he started by taking the puck off the stick of Martin St. Louis.

Sergei Samsonov whiffed on a slapshot from the slot and couldn't stuff home the rebound. Neither could Tuomo Ruutu, but Staal was parked to goalie Mike Smith's left and snapped the puck past him for his team-leading 21st goal.

Ward, making his 15th straight start, stopped 27 shots and improved to 6-1 in his last seven starts against the Lightning. Smith made 28 saves but fell to 0-4-2 against Carolina.

The Hurricanes did a solid job of shutting down all-stars Vincent Lecavalier and St. Louis, who failed to score. Lecavalier had six goals and four assists in his previous seven games, while St. Louis had five goals and eight assists in his last 10.

This one seemed headed for overtime after Malone tied it with 14:50 remaining. Recchi found him streaking, and Malone tapped the puck in for his second goal in two games.

Cullen gave Carolina a 2-1 lead late in the second when he tracked down the puck behind the net, skated around Smith's glove side and tucked a shot inside the right post for his 11th goal and first in seven games.

Earlier in that period, he assisted on LaRose's tying goal - the Hurricanes' first short-handed score of the season. Carolina was the only team in the NHL that hadn't scored while short-handed.

Recchi took advantage of a defensive miscue by the Hurricanes and put Tampa Bay up 1-0 late in the first. After Anton Babchuk fumbled a clearing attempt, the former Hurricane snapped up the puck and wristed it past Ward.

Notes: Tampa Bay RW Steve Downie has points in four straight games. ... The Hurricanes recalled D Bryan Rodney from Albany (AHL) and placed D Niclas Wallin (leg) on injured reserve. Carolina RW Scott Walker (upper body) also was out with an injury. ... The Lightning recalled G Riku Helenius from Norfolk (AHL) to replace G Karri Ramo, who was sent back to serve a six-game suspension for leaving the bench during a fight. ... The Hurricanes honoured late North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow with a brief video tribute. The Hall of Famer died last weekend after a two-decade fight against breast cancer.

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