RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't proud of their recent special-teams play, but with the game on the line in the third period Sunday, the two units rose to the occasion.
With the score tied 2-2 in the third period and Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal off for high sticking, Steven Stamkos set up in the slot and took a pass from Tyler Johnson in the corner before sending a wrist shot inside the left post at 14:17 for a 3-2 lead. The Lightning entered the game with the 24th-ranked power-play unit, and earlier in the game had given up a short-handed goal for the third straight game.
This followed the Lightning killing off the second of two minor penalties in the game.
"Listen, we needed our penalty kill to kill off a penalty, they did. We needed our power play to win the game for us, and they did," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after the Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. "That's what we want, and that's what happened. It was good."
Video: TBL@CAR: Callahan blasts a slap shot past Ward
"We're going to have to respond as a group," Stamkos said. "No one is going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to make some corrections."
With Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward pulled for an extra attacker late in the game, Ben Bishop (29 saves) stopped defenseman Ron Hainsey's bid from the low slot, then got a blocker on Jeff Skinner's shot from point-blank range.
Ryan Callahan's empty-net goal from center ice, his second of the game, gave the Lightning a 4-2 lead.
The Lightning, who extended their winning streak to three games, had given up 28 goals in the previous eight games.
"We're getting there slowly, but we're trending in the right direction," Callahan said. "We're a team that, when we do get grade-A chances, they're usually in the back of the net. If we concentrate on our end first, once we get the opportunities, hopefully we can put them away."
Video: TBL@CAR: Callahan seals victory with an empty-netter
Carolina (27-23-10) scored first with a shorthanded goal from Joakim Nordstom at 11:10. After gathering a loose puck in the Hurricanes defensive zone, Jordan Staal skated the length of the ice, picking up Nordstrom for a 2-on-1. Nordstrom switched from his forehand to his backhand and took the puck across his body before knocking it in off the bounce.
The goal continued a hot streak for the line centered by Staal. Nordstrom scored his fifth goal in 12 games, and Staal has points in 15 of the past 20 games.
J.T. Brown tied the game with his eighth of the season at 4:41 of the second period. Andrej Sustr's shot from the left point hit the stick of Cedric Paquette before careening to Brown, where he finished from outside the crease. Valtteri Filppula threw the puck around the end boards and out to the blue line before setting up Sustr.
Brown's father, Ted, was a running back at North Carolina State from 1975 to 1978 and played his home games at Carter-Finley Stadium, located next to PNC Arena. With Tampa Bay in the midst of a father's trip, Brown was asked if he looked into the crowd for his dad after scoring the goal.
"No, I was looking behind our bench because there was a sign that said if I scored, somebody got a puppy," Brown joked.
Video: TBL@CAR: Brown hammers home a juicy rebound
Callahan gave the Lightning (33-22-4) a 2-1 lead with his seventh of the season at 8:27 of the second period. Callahan took a long, cross-ice pass from Stamkos and fired a short-side slap shot past Ward.
Carolina tied the game when Michal Jordan made a power move for his first of the season at 12:59. After Jeff Skinner held off Tyler Johnson, he fed Jordan, who charged from above the left circle and wrapped the puck around the right post. Bishop was caught leaning beyond the left post when he lost his stick going for the poke check. Earlier in the season, Jordan endured a stretch of 23 games as a healthy scratch.
"He's been playing good, and credit to him," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "He's been in the lineup consistently and he's taken advantage of the opportunity, so that's a good sign."
Stamkos, who scored for the third straight game, said the Lightning did just enough to win.
"We found a way," said Stamkos, whose goal gave him the team lead with 25. "It wasn't a pretty game again. I don't think we can be satisfied still with the wins we've been getting. We've had to rely on Bishop quite a bit. Especially down the stretch he made some huge saves. But we're finding ways and we weren't doing that before."
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. Kucherov, Tampa Bay's leading scorer with 49 points, sustained the injury in a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Video: TBL@CAR: Bishop makes superb leg save in final minute
"Let's hope he's not too bad," Cooper said. "Hopefully he can play Tuesday."
With the Hurricanes on an 11-5-3 run, Peters took nothing away from their effort on Sunday.
"We were really good today," he said. "Brett Pesce hit a post in the third, Ron Hainsey had a couple looks late. We needed to get through that penalty kill obviously."
The game was physical, with the Hurricanes having a 33-29 edge in hits.
"When you get this late in the season, everything amps up," Callahan said. "This is the time that everybody's play rises, and they're right behind us in the standings. Both teams knew that coming in and knew how important these two points were."
Video: Bishop, Lightning hold off Hurricanes