Hurricanes tie game late, but fall in overtime to Tampa Bay

Home preseason opener ended on Palat breakway for 2-1 Lightning win

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey takes part in a drill on Friday

RALEIGH — Two-third of Tampa Bay’s Triplets were in Raleigh Friday, and it turned out to be enough.Ondrej Palat scored on an unassisted breakaway in overtime to give the Lightning a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of 6,610 fans at the Canes’ preseason home opener at PNC Arena. Carolina is now 2-0-1 on the preseason.Jeff Skinner scored on the power play with 1:05 remaining — Carolina’s fifth of six man-advantage opportunities of the night — to tie the game 1-1 and force overtime, and Ron Hainsey nearly scored at 3-on-3 in the extra session to end it. Instead, Hainsey’s missed opportunity sprung Palat for the game-winner, which he got past relief goalie Michael Leighton 98 seconds into overtime.It took the Hurricanes nearly 59 minutes, and a pulled goalie, to solve Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, finally breaking through on a 6-on-4 when Phil Di Giuseppe found Skinner at the bottom of the right circle and his one-timer from a knee beat the 22-year-old Tampa Bay goalie to tie the game.Carolina had gone on the power play when Brayden Point — who scored in Tampa Bay’s first two preseason games — was called for a high sticking double-minor at 17:12. The second half of Point’s penalty carried over through the rest of regulation and into the start of overtime, but the Hurricanes unable to find the net again. “It’s important. I don’t know if one bleeds into the next game or anything like that,” Brind’Amour said of the late power play goal. “But it’s just nice to see. They worked hard, they moved it around pretty well tonight. To get rewarded at the end was, I think, good just for the morale of the group probably more than anything. There’s still a lot of work there.”Carolina wound up outshooting the Lightning 28-17, but it was a slow start that saw the teams combining for just seven shots in the first period.”It was a sloppy first two periods for both teams really,” Brind’Amour said. “There just wasn’t a lot going on. The neutral zone was really poor, I thought. A lot of turnovers and we never really got a forecheck going.”One of Tampa Bay’s three shots in the opening period gave them the lead. Tyler Johnson — the second Triplet along with running mate Nikita Kucherov, who is without a contract after playing for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey — opened the scoring 5:21 into the game when he received a pass from Palat in the slot and wristed the puck over Eddie Lack’s glove to make it 1-0.”One little mistake and [we] didn’t read the rush quite correctly,” Brind’Amour said. “You know … their best player gets the puck in that area, that’s what you don’t want to do. So it ended in the back of the net.”The one goal was all Tampa Bay would get by Lack, who made several nice stops in his two periods in net, including a save on a Joel Vermin one-timer five minutes into the second that kept Carolina within one.Brind’Amour thought the slow start impacted Lack as well as the rest of the team.”I liked his first game, [he] really looked sharp,” Brind’Amour said of Lack’s two shutout periods in the preseason opener. “And tonight, it was just a slow start for everybody. Unfortunately, it’s not how we want to do it. But I thought he was fine. Goaltending is obviously going to be a big part of this season. So far, both our guys look good.”As for the two players making their Carolina debut, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen seemed to settle in during the second period after a shaky first. Aho forced a turnover in the Tampa Bay end that nearly tied the game when he combined with Teravainen and center Elias Lindholm for a tic-tac-toe play in front that wasn’t converted.The trio also played on Carolina’s top power play unit along with Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk.”They had a lot of great looks. They didn’t score,” Brind’Amour said of the two Finns. “Again, it’s so early in the season, they’ve just had one practice. So I’m basically trying to tell them on the fly what we’re looking to do. They pick it up really quickly. So that’s a good, positive sign. Just keep working at it.”There were mistakes by both — an Aho turnover in the defensive zone nearly wound up in the back of the Carolina net if not for a stop by Lack — but Brind’Amour said it’s just a matter of getting the duo to pick their spots.”We’re still learning what they’re about, but they’re high-risk, high-reward kind of players,” Brind’Amour said. “You can see the great plays they made there tonight, too. They made a lot of real nice plays and I think they’re just going to have to probably, on the 5-on-5 situations, just when there’s nothing there you don’t always have to make a play. Because you just can’t afford the turnover. There was a couple there that led to some of [Tampa Bay’s] Grade-A chances.”The Lightning held the shot advantage after two periods, 12-11, but Carolina had the best chance in the middle frame came when Jordan Staal beat Vasilevskiy over his glove hand, but the shot ricocheted off the crossbar. The Hurricanes play Sunday in Minnesota in the fourth of seven preseason games.