Yanni Gourde scored in overtime to give the Lightning a 3-2 home win over the Hurricanes on Monday in Tampa Bay. Andrei Svechnikov and Brady Skjei scored to erase a two-goal deficit in the loss.
1. The Hurricanes still aren’t clicking on all cylinders, but the Svechnikov piston seems to be firing again. Svechnikov scored for the third straight game, wristing a shot from the left circle past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (25 saves) for a power play goal just past the midway point of regulation that got Carolina on the board and halved Tampa Bay’s lead.
“I feel comfortable with everything,” he said after the game. “I’ve got my confidence back, so I’ve got to keep that.”
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour shrugged off the goal and instead focused on Svechnikov’s impactful overall play.
“I know everyone judges — and he does too, I’m sure — on goals and whatnot, but he’s always making plays out there,” Brind’Amour said. “He had a great game tonight, really. He got a goal and he set up (Jordan Staal) at the end there for a potential winner in overtime.”
2. It might not quite have been playoff-level hockey, but it was certainly fast and fun hockey. Both the Lightning and Hurricanes play an up-tempo and aggressive style — about the only time the game wasn’t back and forth was in overtime, when each team tried to methodically find its chance.
Both did, with Svechnikov springing Staal for a chance on Vasilevskiy and Martin Necas blasting a shot that looked like it might leak through the Tampa Bay goalie — but didn’t.
Instead, it was Gourde finishing a chance, capitalizing on a loose puck that popped right to him alone in the slot to shoot on Petr Mrazek (32 saves) and then bang in the rebound to give the Lightning the win.
“We’re playing the best team in hockey, you can’t play the way we did,” Brind’Amour said. “We can’t play two periods like that and then expect to get anything out of it, so it’s kind of a good point for us.”
3. Necas was knocked around during the game, taking an uncalled elbow from Lightning defenseman Eric Cernak and then getting leveled in open ice by Alex Killorn. The latter play resulted in Jake Gardiner going after Killorn (more on that below).
Necas did return late in the third period and played in overtime, but with another game on tap for Tuesday and a seemingly inevitable playoff series coming next month, this won’t be the last dust-up between these teams.
“I can’t even comment on it because I haven’t looked at it,” Brind’Amour said of the Killorn hit. “Obviously, (the refs) didn’t call any penalties on it, so they must have thought it was fine.”
Number To Know
2 — Career fights for Gardiner, who dropped the gloves with Killorn after the hit on Necas. Gardiner’s other fight was more than seven years ago, on Feb. 4, 2014, against Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau when he was still with the Maple Leafs. Monday was just Gardiner’s third game since March 8.
“Gards isn’t known as a fighter, obviously, but you protect your teammates when you have to,” Skjei said. “Junior (Necas’ nickname) got hit pretty hard there, and it was a great job from Gards stepping up and fighting there.”
They Said It
“We need to up the ante a little bit if we want to get to a playoff level-type game.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour being critical of his team’s performance in Monday’s loss and preparing for Tuesday’s rematch
Petr Mrazek, Hurricanes goalie — The Hurricanes likely end up with a regulation loss if not for Mrazek, who weathered several Lightning storms to help Carolina reach overtime and earn a point.
“We got lucky to get a point out of that,” Brind’Amour said. “Our goalie bailed us out all game, in my opinion.”
Nino Niederreiter, Hurricanes forward — It was a quiet night for No. 21, who — other than taking an elbowing penalty that resulted in matching minors just 3:26 into the game — was mostly invisible all night. The line with him, Staal and Warren Foegele was on the ice for six high-danger scoring chances for the Lightning while generating none.