Points are huge when you are in a playoff race like the Tampa Bay Lightning are. The Bolts definitely did not play their best game on Wednesday night, but still found themselves in overtime against the Carolina Hurricanes. Tampa Bay ended up getting those much needed 2 points when Victor Hedman lit the lamp less than a minute into overtime to give them the victory 4-3.
For the 2nd straight game Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be sharp early on. The Lightning goaltender was peppered with 7 shots in the 1st 5 minutes of the game, and stopped all of them. The Bolts ended up facing 9 Carolina shots before they were able to muster 1 of their own. Those shots came on a power play 7 minutes in. Victor Hedman made those early shots count when he fired the puck past Eddie Lack for the early lead. The lead for the Lightning wouldn’t last long though. Elias Lindholm sent in a firecracker of a shot and Noah Hanifin was able to redirect it to get it through the legs of Vasilevskiy to tie the game up. Hedman was sent to the box shortly after the Carolina goal and the Hurricanes took advantage to take the lead. Derek Ryan’s 9th goal of the season had the Bolts on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the 1st time of the night. At the end of the 1st period that is where the score stood with Carolina outshooting Tampa Bay 18-4.
Ondrej Palat had a great look at tying the game back up very early in the 2nd, but his shot ended up just wide of the net. Tampa Bay was spending a lot more time in the Carolina zone early in the period, but a hooking penalty on Nikita Kucherov momentarily changed that. Kucherov almost scored immediately upon returning from the box, but Lack was able to get a piece of the puck with his pad to send it wide. The Bolts got a power play chance of their own with about 5 minutes remaining in the period when Jaccob Slavin was sent to the box for the 2nd time of the night. The Lightning couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage and headed to the final period still down a goal.
The offensive woes continued for Tampa Bay in the 3rd. Halfway through the period, the Bolts had just managed to add 1 shot on goal to their total. All it took was a single shot after that to change everything. Tyler Johnson’s 18th goal of the season and changed the entire complexion of this game with 9 minutes remaining. The Lightning got a chance to take the lead moments later when Sebastian Aho was sent to the box for slashing. The Bolts couldn’t score on that power play, but Kucherov took over shortly after. His 27th goal of the season gave Tampa Bay the lead for the 1st time since their goal in the opening period. Carolina wouldn’t go down lightly though. Jay McClement scored a short-handed goal with less than 3 minutes remaining to tie it back up at 3 and send it to overtime.
The Lightning got the goal they needed only 46 seconds into overtime. Hedman fired his 2nd goal of the night past Lack to get the Bolts 2 points on a night that they probably didn't deserve them.
The Lightning will now be off on Thursday before they face back-to-back road games to start the weekend. The 1st game of that back-to-back is Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game will get going at 7 pm with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. Tampa Bay - PPG - Hedman - (Kucherov, Palat) - 7:58
2. Carolina - Hanifin - (Lindholm, Aho) - 11:52
3. Carolina - PPG - Ryan - (Hanifin, Rask) - 14:54
1. Tampa Bay - Johnson - (Dotchin, Palat) - 10:51
2. Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Johnson, Garrison) - 15:18
3. Carolina - SHG - McClement - (Slavin, Lindholm) - 17:23
1. Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Kucherov, Johnson) 0:46
1. Carolina - Slavin - (Tripping) - 6:43
2. Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Cross Checking) - 13:11
1. Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Hooking) - 5:44
2. Carolina - Slavin - (High Sticking) - 14:48
1. Carolina - Aho - (Slashing) - 13:05
2. Carolina - Teravainen - (Tripping) - 16:10
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 16
Carolina - 31