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Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2, SO @NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -One practice wasn't enough for Rick Tocchet to correct all that was wrong with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tocchet lost his debut as Tampa Bay coach when Tuomo Ruutu and Rod Brind'Amour scored in the shootout and Cam Ward stopped two shots to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory Sunday.

"It's a step in the right direction," Tocchet said. "I thought the guys played well, I think they're really starting to get what we're trying to do here."

Tocchet became a head coach for the first time when Barry Melrose was fired Friday after Tampa Bay lost three straight games. A veteran of 18 NHL seasons, Tocchet perhaps is best known for his role in a sports betting ring that led to a league suspension.

He rejoined the Phoenix Coyotes as an assistant coach in February, then was hired by Melrose in the offseason.

"The last thing I need to do is show the guys that I'm too anxious or stuff like that," said Tocchet, who got a visit from former Hurricanes player and Hall of Famer Ron Francis afterward. "I actually was very calm, so it was kind of surreal, kind of fun."

Vincent Lecavalier and Jussi Jokinen both failed to score in the shootout, giving the Hurricanes only their second victory in six games. Brind'Amour also scored in regulation to move out of a tie for 50th on the career NHL scoring list.

The new coach made a few subtle changes, such as using shorter shifts for all the players in an attempt to keep them fresh down the stretch.

It appeared to work, too. The Lightning outshot Carolina 8-1 in the third period. Then they had a man-advantage that carried over from regulation to the first 1:45 of overtime, but they couldn't capitalize.

"You get a 4-on-3, you need to score a goal, because then it can to a shootout, and then who knows," St. Louis said. "I take full responsibility. I'm the guy that's out there, and I've got to get the job done, and I didn't."

One of Tocchet's first decisions, though was to reunite the line of Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Prospal, which had been separated for a game by Melrose, and it paid immediate dividends. Lecavalier and St. Louis scored in the same game for the first time this season to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead.

"This is our first crack at it," St. Louis said. "I thought he did a good job. I wish we had a better outcome, but I thought we stuck together. We battled hard."

Carolina rallied in the second period. Wade Brookbank gathered a rebound with his back to the net and whirled to put the puck in the net to cut the deficit to 2-1. About 90 seconds later, Brind'Amour gathered in a beautiful pass from Ray Whitney and sent a low shot past goalie Mike Smith.

"I hope this puts us in the right direction," Brind'Amour said. "Our game is not where you want it to be. But a win is a win and we'll take it any way we can get it."

Both of those tallies came after the Lightning appeared to get a break. Lecavalier hopped over the boards to get on the ice, and the puck bounced off his skate before Prospal could get to the bench. Instead of a call for too many men on the ice, the officials allowed play to continue, and Lecavalier scored off an assist from Mark Recchi to make it 2-0.

The Hurricanes dominated the opening period, but Smith kept them out of the net with several nifty saves. He often kicked a shot aside on one side of the net and slid over to the other side of the crease to hold Carolina at bay.

And his solid play helped the Lightning take the lead midway through the first period. Radim Vrbata came out of the penalty box and led a rush into Carolina's zone, with St. Louis racing alone ahead of the defense.

A cross-ice pass led St. Louis perfectly, and when Ward came out to meet him, he sent a high shot into the top of the goal.

Notes: Only three players in NHL history have 400 career goals and 2,500 career penalty minutes, and two are with the Lightning: Tocchet and left wing Gary Roberts each have done it, along with Pat Verbeek. ... Brookbank, who splits time between defense and forward, got his first points of the season.

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