Carolina tops Lightning 4-1, tied atop Central Division
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nino Niedereitter, Jordan Staal and Steven Lorentz scored second-period goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Carolina remains tied for first place in the Central Division with the Florida Panthers. The Hurricanes have played two fewer games.
Florida and Carolina open a two-game set on Thursday in Sunrise, Florida.
Jordan Martinook added an empty-net goal with 2.2 seconds left. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 26 shots for the victory.
“All these games now, they mean a lot,’’ said Nedeljkovic, who improved to 11-4-2 on the season. “We’re poised here to make a deep run, and games like this are only going to push us in the right direction. We’ll most likely have to go through these guys one way or another come playoff time.’’
Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay, which sits three points behind the division leaders in the Central with 10 games remaining.
Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 32 saves.
“The game didn’t have the same sort of emotional checklist that the night before did,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “They capitalized on some plays and deservedly so, they played well tonight, they played better than us.’’
After a scoreless first period, Niederreiter opened the scoring 7:48 into the second period, cutting to the slot and taking a backhand feed from Vincent Trocheck before slipping a wrist shot into the top corner for his 16th of the season.’’
Staal scored 25 seconds later as he battled with Yanni Gourde at the right circle, but was able to deflect Dougie Hamilton’s shot past Vasilevskiy. Lorentz made it 3-0 at 16:45, taking a pass from Morgan Geekie out of the corner and getting a free look from the bottom of the right circle for his second of the season.
“Once we got on the board we kind of got energized … and we put a couple more by a really good goaltender in Vasilevskiy,’’ Lorentz said. “So we’re very proud of the way we responded tonight.’’
Point answered with his 20th goal of the season 18 seconds later, pushing a pass from Ondrej Palat past Nedeljkovic at 17:03.
“That was a 60-minute effort all the way through,’’ Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We were just a little more invested in this game.”
RARE DOUBLE PLAY
Tampa Bay turned to Vasilevskiy in net for the second consecutive night, a rare double dip for the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner. The last time Vasilevskiy started on back-to-back nights in the regular season came on Nov. 28-29, 2017, which was the second time he did so during the 2017-18 season, after starting on consecutive nights to open the season. Vasilevskiy did start on back-to-back nights in the playoffs last season, including Games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against Dallas.
NOT THE RIGHT TIMING FOR TERAVAINEN
Carolina LW Teuvo Teravainen remains sidelined with concussion symptoms, missing his 22nd consecutive game on Tuesday. But coach Rod Brind’Amour hinted a return is getting closer.
“We’re still waiting on him,’’ Brind’Amour said. “Hopefully we’ll get him in soon. I don’t think it’s in the next day or two, I think we’re still a few days away, but that’s kind of up to him at this point.’’
Carolina: At Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Tampa Bay: Host Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
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By ERIK ERLENDSSON