RALEIGH It took 61:26 for the 11,521 fans at PNC Arena Sunday to see a goal. It was a much longer wait for Carolina Hurricanes forward Phil Di Giuseppe.Di Giuseppe took a pass at the left boards from Viktor Stalberg, skated to the bottom of faceoff circle and wristed a shot past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop for the game’s only goal and Di Giuseppe’s first of the season to give Carolina a 1-0 overtime win.It was Di Giuseppe’s first NHL goal since March 17, back when he had seven goals and 10 assists in 55 games for the Hurricanes in his rookie campaign in 2015-16. After earning a spot with Carolina out of training camp this season, he was sent back to the AHL Nov. 11 having not registered a point in 11 games. On Sunday, in his fourth game since coming back to the Hurricanes, he finally found the scoresheet.”When I got sent down the team really started going,” Di Giuseppe said. “When I got called back up I think the team was still playing really well. A couple bad bounces here and there and we didn’t get any breaks, but we did tonight so it’s nice.”Carolina (10-10-5) was stingy again, limiting the Lightning’s chances both at even strength and when down a man. The Hurricanes’ top-ranked penalty kill bested Tampa Bay’s No. 1 power play, denying the Lightning on five power play chances, including 21 seconds of 5-on-3 time in the third period. Carolina’s PK climbed to 91.3 percent on the season, while Tampa Bay dipped to 22.9 percent and down to third in the league.”Our penalty kill has been a difference-maker all season, really,” Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said. “We look at the charts over here and there’s a reason why we’re at the top, and there’s a reason why Tampa Bay’s at the top on the power play. … We contained them and made some big blocks again. The guys are stepping up.”When the Lightning (14-11-2) did find a crack in the Carolina defense, Ward (30 saves, 8-7-4) was there to make the stop and earn his second shutout of the season.”Unfortunately we had to kill the back-to-backs and then a little overlap … on the 3 vs. 5, but good job by those guys,” coach Bill Peters said of his penalty kill. “And then Wardo stood tall, and he’s been excellent here for a long period of time for us.”The Hurricanes again struggled to create scoring chances, with their best ones coming on a third-period power play where they hit the post at least once, and another in the final frame where Di Giuseppe was seemingly pulled down, then got back up and bobbled a chance at an empty net in Bishop’s paint.Peters was clearly frustrated by a continuing lack of calls going his team’s way.”He didn’t get tripped because there’s no penalty. … Looked like we might’ve went on the power play there, but maybe next time,” Peters said of the no call when Di Giuseppe was hauled down. Still, Peters acknowledged his team needs to generate more goals.”We need to get different results offensively,” Peters said. “I thought we had some good looks … and we’ve got to find a way to bear down. Maybe we’ve got to quit dusting the puck off, stickhandling, and get it off our stick quicker.”The win gives Carolina six in a row at home and two points they desperately needed after coming away with just one of six on the road this week and three more games in California coming up.”It’s desperate times,” Ward said. “You can’t afford to get on a slide. We’ve had a bit of a difficult time scoring and putting pucks in the net. But I thought tonight we didn’t worry about that. It was a 0-0 tight game and I had that sense that it was only going to take one. “We played smart, we didn’t press or take too many chances. You know, just wait for your opportunity and Phil makes a shot.”Notes: Stalberg’s assist gives him five points (four goals, one assist) in his last five games. … Defenseman Jaccob Slavin finished with a career-high seven shots on goal. His previous best was four (twice). … Fellow blueliner Justin Faulk finished with a game-high 11 shot attempts, including three on net. … Center Derek Ryan won 7 of 11 faceoffs. … Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat had no shot attempts in 23:47 of ice time, including 4:26 on the power play.
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