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Hurricanes 5, Lightning 1 @NHLdotcom

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Justin Williams didn't score a goal in his first six games this season. He made up for it big time in the seventh.

Williams had three goals and an assist, and Cam Ward made 34 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 Monday night.

"It's nice to get off the goose egg," Williams said. "Sometimes they find a way of going in. I had a lot of scoring opportunities tonight and sometimes that's the way the puck goes."

Williams scored twice during a three-goal second period that put Carolina up 4-0. He made it 2-0 with a rebound goal at 3:11 and scored on a power play with 2:39 left. The right wing completed his first career hat trick with a rebound power-play goal from the low left circle 37 seconds into the third.

Ward stopped Martin St. Louis on two breakaways in the first. He also made second-period saves on in-close shots by St. Louis and Brad Richards.

"The win is all that matters," said Ward, who lost the bid for his first career shutout late in the third.

Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Belanger also scored for Carolina. The defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes have won three straight after starting the season 0-3-1.

"We needed Cam on more than one occasion to bail us out," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've seen Cam really focused before and really sharp. That was one of the sharpest performances I've seen from him."

Nikita Alexeev scored for the Lightning with 2:13 left in the third. Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis was pulled after allowing four goals on 19 shots through two periods.

"I thought we played a very good first period," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "The beginning of that second period, the first three or four shifts and really right on through, they fed it to us as far as grit.

"I'm not going to get into assessing any more of the game. I don't know what we turned off. We will assess it as a team tomorrow, together."

The Lightning have lost four of five.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," said St. Louis, who had seven shots. "We've got to keep going."

Brind'Amour put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0 at 4:28 of the first when Erik Cole's pass went off his skate and into the net. Belanger scored on the power play midway through the second.

Notes: Carolina D Glen Wesley and D Bret Hedican both missed their second consecutive game with lower body injuries. ... The Lightning have been outscored 9-2 in the first period this season. ... Hurricanes RW Trevor Letowski, sidelined by a concussion, is expected to be re-examined this week. ... Alexeev's goal was his first since Feb. 23, 2003. He spent the past three seasons in the minors and Russia.

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