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Lightning beat Hurricanes 4-2 @NHLdotcom
The Tampa Bay Lightning's ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is two points closer to being punched.

The Lightning moved within three points of their first playoff berth since 2007 and put a giant dent in Carolina's postseason hopes with a 4-2 win at the RBC Center on Saturday night.

With 91 points, the Lightning need just four points to get back to the postseason for the first time in four years.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game," said forward Simon Gagne, who scored twice and has six in five games against Carolina this season. "To get this one was huge for us. We battled really hard as a team from goalie to forward to defenseman. It was really a playoff-type game, and it's good to come here on the road and beat a team that's very desperate for points."

It was a big turnaround for the Lightning, who lost 4-3 to the 'Canes in Tampa on Friday.

"The reality is we didn't work last night," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "We decided today we were going to work, and that's how we played all year long. This is exactly how we won our game. The minute we don't work we lose against anybody."

The loss was devastating for the Hurricanes, who had their three-game winning streak ended and fell five points behind eighth-place Buffalo with seven games to play.

"Now we're going to need help," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We're going to have to come pretty close to running the table from here on out."

Eric Staal gave Carolina the lead with a power-play goal 7:07 into the game, taking a pass from Cory Stillman at the right faceoff dot and beating Mike Smith for his 31st goal of the season.

Martin St. Louis tied it for the Lightning at 13:56, taking a pass from Vincent Lecavalier and beating Cam Ward to the stick side for his 27th of the season.

"This was good," Lecavalier said. "We played 60 minutes, played hard, played physical and did a lot of good things. Now we have to carry it over to the next game."

Gagne made it 2-1 with 2:24 left when he stole the puck from Joe Corvo just inside the Hurricanes' blue line and skated in to beat Ward. Erik Cole tied it with 50 seconds left in the period, taking Stillman's pass in traffic on the right doorstep and beating Smith for his 23rd of the season.

But Dominic Moore put the Lightning ahead again on the power play with 2:07 remaining in the second, beating Ward off an assist from Lecavalier. The Lightning got the power play when Cole was called for interfering with Smith after making a move to the net.

"It's unfortunate," Cole said of the call. "You're just trying to drive across the front of the net and you've got one guy with his arm around you and then another guy comes and bumps you. There wasn't really anywhere to go. I tried to slow down by the time I got to the net, but it is what it is. That's the difference in the game."

Smith finished with 33 saves and held off the 'Canes down the stretch before Gagne hit the empty net for the final margin.

Carolina has two days off before a tough set of back-to-back games -- Tuesday at Washington and Wednesday at home against Montreal.

"Regardless of whether you win or you lose a game at this time of the season, the next game becomes the biggest game of the year and so on and so on," Cole said. "That's just he mentality we're going to have to have and we're going to have to keep going."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.
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