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Lightning spoil Carolina's opener with 5-1 win

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Six months after spoiling Carolina's 2010-11 playoff hopes, the Tampa Bay Lightning did the same to the Hurricanes' season-opener.

Tampa Bay scored two goals 10 seconds apart to blow open a one-goal game and Dwayne Roloson made 32 saves as the Lightning rolled to a 5-1 season-opening win at the RBC Center on Friday night.

"They came out and said they wanted a little revenge, so maybe it was a little extra motivation for us," said Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who had two assists. "We wanted to make sure we came out and stuck to the things we talked about in training camp."

The Lightning led 2-1 when Carolina captain Eric Staal was called for interference at 10:29 of the third period. With just seven seconds left on the power play, Steve Downie redirected Marc-Andre Bergeron's shot into the net for a 3-1 lead. Moments after the ensuing faceoff, Adam Hall was left alone in front to beat Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.

Ryan Malone added an insurance goal for the Lightning, who won the first game of a season-opening five-game trip that continues Saturday night with a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston. The 'Canes head to Washington for the Capitals' season-opener.

The Hurricanes, whose 6-2 loss to the Lightning on the final night last season cost them a playoff berth, came out like a team intent on avenging that defeat.

Carolina's Jeff Skinner, the 2010-11 Calder Trophy winner, drew a power play and then opened the scoring at 8:07 of the first period when he fired the rebound of Tim Gleason's shot past Roloson. But that was the only one of the Hurricanes' 16 shots in the opening period to get past the soon-to-be 42-year-old goaltender, who made a half-dozen tough saves to keep the margin at 1-0.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher knew the 'Canes would come out strong.

"One of our mentalities is to wear the other team down with our drive and our speed," Boucher said. "We knew they were waiting for this game. We were great in the first 10 minutes, but the minute they scored that goal on the turnover, for some reason we started to panic a bit. But we had some guys who played great in the second and third."

Added Roloson: "They were throwing a lot of pucks to the net. For us, it was a matter of sorting out our D zone. Once we got it figured out, we were able to maintain our system and our structure."

Tampa Bay tied the game 5:19 into the second period when Stamkos, Tampa Bay's newly minted alternate captain, corralled a rebound in the slot and dished off for Martin St. Louis on the right doorstep for a tap-in. The goal was St. Louis' 35th against Carolina, the most he has scored against any opponent. The 36-year-old All-Star finished with a goal and an assist.

"I don't know why," said St. Louis, trying to account for his success against Carolina. "I try to be on top of my game every night, but it won't happen. I was just ready for tonight's game."

Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead on its first 5-on-3 opportunity of the season with 2:10 remaining in the second period when Ward stopped a blast by Stamkos from the slot only to have Vincent Lecavalier bat the rebound out of midair and into the net. The Lightning got the two-man, two-minute advantage when Hurricanes rookie Justin Faulk took an interference penalty and Jussi Jokinen was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct when his backhand swipe at the puck hit the referee.

Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice was at a loss to explain the team's struggles in the second and third period.

"I felt we had a good effort," he said. "I liked the way we came out. The things we did we don't normally do. We don't take those penalties. That put us in trouble.

"I don't know how you slice that one. At the end of the day, we're responsible for our own actions."

Roloson claimed no special pride in playing Carolina-killer for the second straight time, dating back to the elimination game in April.

"No sense of satisfaction there whatsoever," he said. "We focus on what we have to do to win hockey games. Last year is last year. We prepare for the now."
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