TAMPA, Fla. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Tampa Bay Lightning will take wins however they can come down the stretch.The Lightning rallied for the lead in the final five minutes, lost it in regulation, then got a goal from Victor Hedman 46 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.The Lightning (29-25-8) pulled within three points of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference by recording their fourth win in five games despite dealing away key pieces at the trade deadline. Carolina (25-25-10), last in the Eastern standings, lost after regulation for the second night in a row.Hedman scored his 12th goal of the season and his second of the night, beating goalie Eddie Lack for the game-winner after a wild finish in regulation.”Sluggish might be a little understatement. That first period was unacceptable,” Hedman said of an opening period where Tampa Bay was outshot 18-4. “Sometimes you lose games you feel like you should have won. Today was one of those where probably we wouldn’t have argued if they came out with the two points. But we’ll take these two points. In a week or so, you’ll look back on it as two points in the bank. The performance is something we’ve got to improve on, but two points is two points, and this time of year, you take them any way.”Carolina tied the game on a short-handed goal with 2:37 to play, as center Jay McClement redirected a shot from Jaccob Slavin in front of the net to beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was Carolina’s seventh short-handed goal this season, and McClement’s fifth goal of the season. The tie carried into overtime, giving both teams a point in the standings.”For like two periods, I was just standing there,” said Lack, who lost despite the Lightning having a season-low 16 shots. “Obviously, I have to look to myself. It’s only 16 shots and four goals, and that’s not acceptable.”Down a goal halfway through the third and struggling to even get shots, the Lightning scored twice in five minutes for a 3-2 lead with 4:42 left in the game. Tyler Johnson scored to tie the game on a shot that went off his skate in midair, then got the assist on Nikita Kucherov’s goal with 4:42 left on a 2-on-1.Johnson’s goal tied the game with 9:09 left. The Lightning then got a power play, only to go without a shot, but seconds after going to even strength, Tampa Bay took the lead on Kucherov’s 27th goal. Kucherov, who had a hat trick in the second period of Monday’s win against Ottawa, gave the Lightning a big lift as they battle to stay in playoff contention with 20 games to play.Vasilevskiy had 28 saves, winning for the second straight game since goalie Ben Bishop was traded to the Kings.”We got schooled in the first period,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Vasy had to come up huge for us just to keep it a one-goal game. I think that was the difference for us was keeping it a one-goal game.”Tampa Bay struggled to create any offense, with only 12 shots in the first two periods and only one in the first 10 minutes of the third. But the Lightning tied the game on a double-carom shot, as rookie defenseman Jake Dotchin’s long shot went off a Carolina player’s pad and then, as Johnson leaped to avoid the shot, it ricocheted off his skate and bounced past Lack to tie the game. Johnson got his 18th goal, and Carolina challenged the call, arguing he was offside, but the goal stood after review.Carolina took a 2-1 lead after a dominating first period that saw the Hurricanes outshoot the Lightning by an 18-4 margin.Tampa Bay were outshot 9-0 in the early going before the Lightning took a 1-0 lead on their first shot, getting a power-play goal from Hedman, his 11th goal of the season, with 12:02 left in the first.That lead didn’t last long, however, as Carolina struck twice in a span of 3:03 late in the first period.Defenseman Noah Hanifin scored his third goal of the season on a long, well-screened shot that got past Vasilevskiy. Carolina got a power play shortly after that and converted when Derek Ryan scored for his ninth goal of the season for a 2-1 lead.”You want to get in there and do good, but just standing around … it’s not an excuse,” Lack said of the slow night on his end. “I have to find a way to play good.”NOTES: The Lightning continued to be active at the trade deadline, making three more deals Wednesday. Center Valtteri Filppula was traded with draft picks to the Flyers, clearing up major salary-cap room. The Lightning acquired D Mark Streit, but turned around and traded him to the Penguins for a 2017 fourth-round draft pick. Tampa Bay also made a swap of minor league goalies, getting Mike McKenna from the Florida Panthers for Adam Wilcox. … Tampa Bay had already dealt G Ben Bishop to the Kings and C Brian Boyle to the Maple Leafs. … Lightning C Steven Stamkos, out since November with a knee injury, took part in Wednesday’s morning skate. He did not do any contact work but made a first step toward a return, likely later this month. … Carolina recalled forwards Patrick Brown and Andrej Nestrasil from Charlotte to add depth, as Jeff Skinner missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury, though he does not have a concussion. Brock McGinn missed the game with an upper-body injury suffered early in Tuesday’s loss at Florida, and D Matt Tennyson was a healthy scratch. … Tampa Bay’s lone healthy scratch was D Luke Witkowski, with C Greg McKegg, acquired off waivers from the Panthers, making his Lightning debut.
Kenny Williams didn’t play a single minute in North Carolina’s 76-72 win at Duke last March. His front row seat from the bench, however, gave him a good idea what to expect tonight when he […]
One month ago, Virginia was the No. 12 team in the country and still in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Cavaliers dropped four straight games in ACC play […]
The Carolina Mudcats have been selected as the host for the 2018 Carolina League All-Star Game, the team announced Wednesday. The game will be played at Five County Stadium in Zebulon next July on a […]