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Tampa Calms the Storm, Open Home Stand With a Win Over the Hurricanes
By Tyler Santana
The Lightning came into this matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes looking to start their home-stand off right after a good road trip. The Bolts fell behind twice in the first but tied it back up, ending the first period tied. The Bolts then took their first lead in the second period, but the Hurricanes tied it back up at 3 on the powerplay, where they were successful all night. The teams traded goals and came into the 3rd period tied at 3. Even though Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up 4 goals, the team was powered by a Tyler Johnson hat trick and key saves when the Bolts needed them from Vasilevskiy, holding on to secure a win in the first game of the home-stand.
The game started surprisingly defensive, with the first shot on net for either team not coming until 2 minutes had already passed in the period. Unfortunately, Ryan Callahan got called for tripping, sending Carolina to the powerplay. Carolina capitalized with a Brock McGinn goal and took the early lead. After the Carolina goal, Tampa started to shoot. After strong chances from Mikhail Sergachev and Cedric Paquette, Victor Hedman buried a snapshot from the slot and evened up the game. Carolina came right back though as Aho got the puck in the slot after it bounced off Brayden Point’s stick and fired it home from the slot to make it 2-1 Carolina. Tampa would not be held down though as Anton Stralman ripped a shot from the point and Tyler Johnson tipped it right by Cam Ward to bring us even again. The Lightning put a few more shots on net, but the period came to a close just like it started, even.
Shots 14-8 Lightning
The Lightning came out of the intermission shooting, pouring pucks toward the cage manned by Ward. The Lightning took their first lead of the night as Tyler Johnson scored a beautiful goal that was all effort, jamming one rebound into wards pads and then sliding it in off a Hurricanes defender as he tumbled to the ground. The Lightning then went on another penalty kill for a too many men call. This time around, the penalty kill unit stood tall and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who struggled a bit in the first, making some big saves to keep the lead at one. The Hurricanes got another powerplay and Justin Faulk put one past a screened Vasilevskiy to knot the game up at 3. Both sides were trading punches, but the goalies just rolled with them, shutting down every opportunity against they saw. The period ended with both sides possessing three of the goals, a tie heading to the final frame.
Shots 25-23 Bolts
The Bolts came out of this intermission like they did the last, trying to break every shooting record they could. They played fast and offensive, coming to a head when Chris Kunitz put a Nikita Kucherov shot back on net and right through the 5-hole of an unaware Cam Ward. After a Carolina challenge for offside, the goal stood and the Lightning, because of Carolina’s failed challenge, went on their first powerplay in 5 periods. At least that is what every bolts fan was thinking as if anything it wasn’t a conclusive offside. The refs, mirroring a call in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals game 6 when Drouin was deemed “offside”, called Kunitz offside, leaving our game locked at 3. This seemed to be a trend unfortunately as the Lightning weren’t getting any calls, especially with penalties as the refs kept their whistles in their pockets for the Hurricanes. Then halfway through the period, Jake Dotchin makes a great defensive play to disrupt a Jeff Skinner breakaway, then on the other end gets a nice little pass from Brayden Point and picks the top corner, giving the Lightning the 4-3 lead. With just over 5 minutes left, Tyler Johnson uses grown man strength to knock Noah Hanifin off the puck and on his backside, finishing off a great individual effort with a goal to give him a Hattrick. Shortly after, the Bolts are tagged for another penalty, putting Carolina on their 4th powerplay of the night. The Hurricanes put home a goal from Elias Lindholm to make it 5-4 with 1:18 left in the game, but the Bolts would hold the lead and win the game 5-4.
Shots 34-32 Bolts
5-4 Bolts win
First Star: Tyler Johnson (3G)
Second Star: Brayden Point (3A)
Third Star: Victor Hedman (1G,1A)