Center Tyler Johnson scored a hat trick & Center Brayden Point added three asissts as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
Other than a harmless giveaway by Right WIng Nikita Kucherov, the game started slowly. That is until with just over two minutes gone, Lightning Right Wing Ryan Callahan got called for tripping. And while Callahan was in the box, not only did the Hurricanes get the game's first shots on net, they jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Left Wing Brock McGinn, who was set up to the left of Vasilevskiy, pushed a shot past the Lightning goalie for a power play goal.
After falling behind by one, the Lightning mounted some pressure on Hurricanes' Goalie Cam Ward but Ward made several saves, including an outstanding save robbing Lightning Center Cedric Paquette. And after that save, the Lightning got the game even with a nice backhand pass from Center Steven Stamkos in the neutral zone & some nice board-work from Kucherov, who hit Defenseman Victor Hedman with a pass. And Hedman made Stamkos' & Kucherov's good play pay off with a wrist shot which went off Ward's glove & into the net.
The following two minutes included some sloppy play & a giveaway by the Lightning in their own end, which led to an unassisted goal by Hurricanes Right Wing Sebastian Aho & Carolina regaining the lead 2-1. And again with another one goal lead, Ward was put to the test when Brayden Point sprung free for partial breakaway. But Ward was able to get just enough of Point's shot & the shot trickled wide of the net.
With that one goal deficit, the Lightning less than 30 seconds after Ward's save on Point, with the Lightning attacking, they were able to keep the puck in the Hurricanes' zone. And Defenseman Anton Stralman moved from the right point to the center slot & put a shot on net, which Center Tyler Johnson redirected past Ward for his 14th of the season.
The first period ended with Tampa Bay outshooting Carolina 14-8. But the start of the second period got off to a faster start than the first. And with just over 90 seconds gone, the Lightning pushed the pace & with the puck in the offensive zone, Defenseman Jake Dotchin took a shot from the point, which beat Ward but hit the post. But Johnson, who was set up to the left of Ward, had two shots at the puck. The first shot was stopped by Ward but before the puck could clear the front of the net, Johnson got another hack & shot it past Ward for the Lightning's first lead of the game.
After taking their first lead of the game, the Lightning were forced to kill off two penalties. Unfortunately midway through the second period, the second penalty led to a Hurricanes' power play goal when Defenseman Justin Faulk shot a wrist shot from the center slot past Vasilevskiy.
The two Lightning penalties helped the Hurricanes win the shots on goal battle 15-11 but the second period ended tied at three. And just like the start of the second period, the Lightning put the puck in the net. But this time just when it appeared Left Wing Chris Kunitz gave Tampa Bay another one goal lead, the play was overturned when Carolina challenged the goal claiming the puck came out of the Lightning offensive zone & the goal scoring play was offsides.
After the Lightning put pressure following the disallowed goal, Tampa Bay with some pretty passing between Left Wing Ondrej Palat & Point to eventually set up Dotchin, who skated in from the point & shot the puck glove side over Ward.
Five minutes after taking their second one goal lead, the Lightning added a first to their season when Johnson muscled his way into the zone past a Hurricanes' defensman then pushed the puck past Ward for his third goal of the game & the first hat trick for a Lightning player this year. The hat trick was Johnson's third career regular season hat trick.
Trailing now 5-3, the Hurricanes, after gaining the man advantage because of a delay of game penalty on Stamkos, were looking to cut the Lightning's lead. And they did just that when just after the penalty ended, Center Elias Lindholm added the Hurricanes fourth goal on a shot that Vasilevskiy was unable to see because of a screen. And the goalie showed his frustration in allowing that goal by smashing his stick in half.
But even with their lead down to one, the Lightning were able to survive the remaining 70 seconds with the Hurricanes playing with an extra skater. And Vasilevskiy ended up making 28 saves to secure his league-leading 27th win of the season.
Tampa Bay will look for their third straight win overall as they host Calgary on Thursday, before having a week off. Puck drops at 7:30PM & coverage begins on 970 WFLA at 6:30PM.
1. CAR - PPG - McGinn (Williams, Slavin) - 3:23
2. TBL - Hedman - (Kucherov, Stamkos) - 10:02
3. CAR - Aho - (Unassisted) - 12:10
4. TBL - Johnson - (Stralman, Point) - 16:26
1. TBL - Johnson - (Dotchin, Point) - 1:58
2. CAR - PPG - Faulk - (Teravainen, Staal) - 10:36
1. TBL - Dotchin - (Point, Palat) - 9:27
2. TBL - Johnson - (Hedman) - 14:54
3. CAR - Lindholm - (Faulk, Teravainen) - 18:42
1. TBL - Callahan - (Tripping) - 2:18
1. TBL - Bench - (Too Many Men On Ice) - 4:50
2. TBL - Coburn - (Cross-Checking) - 9:55
1. TBL - Stamkos - (Delay Of Game) - 15:51