The Tampa Bay Lightning got a third period goal from Ondrej Palat to break a tie en route to a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes on Monday at PNC Arena. Jesper Fast scored both goals for Carolina, his first two since signing with the team in the offseason, and James Reimer lost for just the second time this season.
1. The Lightning gave the Hurricanes a taste of their own medicine Monday. All the ways the Hurricanes dominated Saturday’s 4-0 win over Tampa Bay were on display in the rematch, only it was the visiting team carrying the play.
The Lightning came out like gangbusters, but somehow the Hurricanes survived the onslaught and even got the first goal and exited the first period ahead 1-0. Carolina played with Tampa the rest of the way, but Monday was a night when the better team won.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the loss. “You gotta remember we’re playing among the best, if not the best, team in hockey. They’re gonna have their moments, there’s just no way around it. … We were a little off at the start, but then we built the game after that and we went head to head with them.
“But they were the better team tonight overall, and that’s why they get the two points.”
The teams have now split the first two of four straight games they will play, with the next two coming in Tampa Bay on Wednesday and Thursday. The Hurricanes won the first game of the season series back on Jan. 28.
2. Jake Bean continues to make his case to stay in the lineup. The rookie defenseman had a game-high seven shots on goal (more on that below) and registered an assist. He now has assists in three straight and five in the last five games since he was reinserted into the lineup. Bean had just five shots total in his previous seven games this season, never registering more than one in any game.
But with each passing game, Bean’s confidence grows.
“I’ve never been one to just be able to step in and just kind of be super confident right off the bat,” Bean said. “I usually grow up pretty naturally. So hopefully I can continue to do that and help us win games.”
The 22-year-old defenseman is not only making Brind’Amour’s lineup decisions difficult — or easy, depending on how you look at it — each night, but he is probably making the Hurricanes front office think long and hard about their negotiations with Dougie Hamilton considering they risk losing Bean in the expansion draft if he is re-signed.
With Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce locked in for four and three more seasons after this year, respectively, the Hurricanes may prefer to use their three protection slots for defense on them and Bean — who will be a restricted free agent this offseason but without arbitration leverage — rather than give Hamilton the mega-contract he will want and likely receive on the open market. Carolina would then expose Brady Skjei (three more years, $5.25M AAV), Jake Gardiner (two years, $4.05M) and Haydn Fleury (one more year at $1.3M, then an RFA with arbitration rights) and have seven forwards they could protect.
Jordan Staal must be protected because of his no-movement clause but Martin Necas is exempt. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov are sure things to be protected, and the team could use the other three on any combination of forwards. If Hamilton is re-signed, things get a little messier, though Carolina could go with the other option: protect any eight skaters and one goalie.
3. Special teams were the only thing that kept Carolina in the game. While Tampa did score once on the Hurricanes’ penalty kill — Steven Stamkos’ tying goal early in the second period — Carolina mostly limited the Lightning with the man advantage. Carolina, meanwhile, went 1 of 3 on the power play and also scored its first goal just five seconds after one expired.
“I think they work hard, and we’ve got a lot of skill out there too,” Brind’Amour said of his team’s power play. “So we got one tonight — we really got two, the way I look at it, because one was right at the end of our power play. And we gave up one. So, kind of canceled out there, but it’s the game now you gotta have good special teams, for sure.”
Number To Know
7 — Shots on goal for Bean, the most by a Hurricanes rookie defenseman in franchise history. Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe twice had seven shots on goal in his first NHL season, scoring two goals in each, but that was after he had already played six seasons in the WHL.
“I always want to get as much as I can towards the net,” Bean said. “Tonight, I got some pucks where I was able to make some moves and get pucks to the net. I’m always looking to generate offense as best I can, and tonight it fell into my hands pretty nicely.”
The closest to Bean is Chris Pronger, who had six shots on goal twice in the 1993-94 season with Hartford. Since the relocation to Raleigh, eight different Hurricanes rookie defensemen have had five shots on goal in a game: Justin Faulk (twice), Ryan Murphy (twice), Brett Bellemore, Noah Hanifin, Jamie McBain, Brett Pesce, Bryan Rodney and David Tanabe. Only Tanabe scored among those eight. Bean — who did it in just 15 minutes of ice time, the fewest of those who played in Carolina — also didn’t score but had an assist.
They Said It
“We probably got what we deserved. You can’t play a 40-minute game in the NHL. You certainly can’t play it against the best team in the NHL.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour
Jesper Fast, Hurricanes forward — Fast finally got his first goal with the Hurricanes, and for good measure he added a second. Fast got the first goal of the game just as Carolina’s first power play expired on a Necas rebound. Then, with the Hurricanes down a goal late in the second, he scored on the power play, banging in another rebound — this time off a Pesce shot — to tie the game.
Fast not only had to adjust to a new team without a training camp, but he was one of the Hurricanes affected by the team’s COVID-19 outbreak. He now has three points in his last three games after getting an assist against Chicago on Friday.
“I’m trying to focus on playing the right way, and when you play good, usually goals and points come,” Fast said. “So I feel like I’m starting to get my game where I want it to be, and that’s usually when you get some success.”
Oh, and he also sent 6-foot-3, 233-pound Erik Cernak into the Carolina bench when the Tampa defenseman tried to hit him despite giving up a couple inches and more than 40 pounds. Not a bad night.
Brady Skjei, Hurricanes defenseman — The game was likely to be decided by a battle here or there, and the one Skjei lost to Palat in the third period was the difference. Palat bested Skjei just to the left of Reimer (28 saves) at the Carolina net, and his second effort bounced off Skjei’s leg and went in at 8:04 of the third for the deciding goal.