RALEIGH — Lighting forward Barclay Goodrow snuck a shot past Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic with 7:21 remaining in the game to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 win in Game 1 of its best-of-seven series with Carolina. Jake Bean had the only goal for the Hurricanes.
1. Game 1 between the Lightning and Hurricanes was everything the NHL wants to showcase. High-end skill, great defensive plays and (mostly) spectacular goaltending.
So for it to be decided on a bad goal, Goodrow’s with under eight minutes left in a tie game, made for a disappointing finish — both for the league and the Hurricanes.
At the other end of the ice, Andrei Vasilevskiy was his usual dazzling self. The Tampa Bay goalie stopped 37 of 38 shots to stymie the Hurricanes and earn the win.
“He’s the best goalie in the world, so we’re going to have to do some special things to get pucks by him,” Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook said. “You’ve got to tip your cap, he’s very good. We’ll come again and try and throw everything we’ve got at him, try and get more bodies in front. It’s all we can do.”
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour echoed Martinook’s praise for Vasilevskiy, along with the need for his team to do more to make things more difficult on the Lightning goalie.
“He’s the best in the league, the best in the world. … We knew that coming in,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s not a surprise. He’s been doing that for quite a while. We’ve just got to make it harder. We’ve got to figure out ways to make it a little bit harder on him.”
2. Special teams should be a good bellwether for how this series will go. Game 1 was a wash.
The Lightning scored on a Brayden Point redirection on their first of three power play opportunities, while the Hurricanes were 1 of 5 thanks to Bean’s goal at the start of the third period.
While Tampa Bay was able to score with fewer opportunities, it also managed only one shot on goal during 4:34 of power play time. Comparatively, Carolina finished with seven shots on the man advantage in 9:09.
3. No one cheers for injuries, but being physical in a series means injecting doubt and inflicting pain on the opposition. For the second straight game, the Hurricanes’ physicality knocked out an opposing defenseman with a legal hit.
In Thursday’s Game 6 against the Predators, it was Martinook’s hit on Roman Josi that sent the Nashville captain out and swung the balance of the game Carolina’s way. Svechnikov’s hit on Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the second period — he finished a check on the end boards that led to Cernak’s head bouncing off Vincent Trocheck’s helmet — depleted the already thin right side of Tampa Bay’s blue line.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game that Cernak should be OK for Game 2 on Tuesday, but Tampa Bay also played the game without David Savard, who was a late scratch. The Lightning are a very deep team, but they can’t afford injuries on defense (or certainly in goal).
The Hurricanes have new injury concerns of their own as Nino Niederreiter missed Game 1 and is “very, very doubtful” for the rest of the series, according to Brind’Amour. Niederreiter left practice Saturday with an undisclosed injury. Cedric Paquette played in his place, making his first postseason appearance with Carolina against his old team.
Number To Know
0 — Rookie defensemen who have scored a playoff goal for the franchise since the Hurricanes relocated to North Carolina until Bean scored Carolina’s only goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss. Five Whalers rookie defensemen did it when the team was in Hartford: Mark Howe, Marty Howe and Gordie Roberts in 1980; Grant Jennings in 1989; and Brad Shaw in 1989 and 1990. Shaw scored three times in all, once in 1989 as a 24-year-old and two more times in 1990. He had played just three games in 1988-89 and was still considered a rookie the following year.
They Said It
“Nothing’s come easy for this group ever. Nothing’s ever handed to them. Everything they’ve gotten, they’ve earned. … But this group’s always bounced back. So I don’t expect anything different.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on his team’s resilience in the face of adversity
Jake Bean, Hurricanes defenseman — Bean had the lone goal for Carolina, a power play tally that tied the score and was his first playoff point. His shot from the blue line found its way past a Jesper Fast screen and Vasilevskiy to tie the game early in the third period.
“It’s nice to see that go in,” Bean said simply.
The Hurricanes are hopeful it is a jumping-off point for Bean, who looked to be gaining footing during the regular season only to regress in the playoffs.
“I hope so. We need him to be good,” Brind’Amour said. “We need him to step up and take another step. Hopefully it propels him to the player that we think he can be.”
Alex Nedeljkovic, Hurricanes goalie — Nedeljkovic doesn’t need to outplay Vasilevskiy for the Hurricanes to have a chance in this series, but they need him to be within reach of the Lightning goalie as he was with Juuse Saros in the Predators series.
Carolina’s rookie goaltender was there for 2½ periods, particularly in his efforts to help the Hurricanes defense with his puckhandling.
Then came the Goodrow game-winner.
The Lightning winger — who attended Hurricanes prospect development camp way back in the summer of 2011 after he was passed over in the NHL Draft — picked up the puck near the left point and was forced wide at the faceoff dot by Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei.
Goodrow flung the puck toward the Carolina net and Nedeljkovic failed to seal the right post. The puck — which was slightly deflected by Skjei’s stick — snuck in the short side.
“It’s tough, tough for everybody,” Brind’Amour said of losing on the soft goal. “It’s no use hiding it, it was a bad goal. He can admit it. OK, it happens. He made a lot of good saves tonight, too. That’s part of it. We’ll bounce back and he’ll bounce back.
“We’ve got to score more than one to win anyway. That’s the way I look at it. We had our chances. We’ve got to make it tougher for them. We’ve got to get more than one.”