After dealing with more postponements and setbacks, it’s finally game day. The Lightning roll into Raleigh to take on former southeast division rival the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrei Vasilevskiy will make his 5th start of the season with Backup Curtis McElhenny still sidelined on the Covid Resevre List. Carolina gave the nod to Petr Mrazek who was in net for Detroit when they faced off with the lightning in the 2015 first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Carolina and Tampa Bay have both had extended time off as the NHL rolls with the punches of the covid-19 environment. Tampa and Carolina have both played fewer than 5 games and are near the bottom of the division. Both teams need a big win to regain momentum in the shortened season. The Lightning will embark on a chaotic remaining schedule playing 51 games in 101 days. The Bolts are without Erik Cernak who’s been sidelined with an injury. A huge loss on the right side of the defense corps. Jon Cooper will have to make adjustments as the game goes on with the defensive pairings they have.
Tampa was a bit blown off guard by a rested hurricanes team. They outshot the sluggish bolts 15 to 7. Thanks to former Vezina trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy the score remind locked at 0-0. Tampa squandered their power play opportunity and barely survived a barrage from the Hurricanes on their man advantage. The Bolts went into the dressing room needing to make some on the fly adjustments to start and take control of the game.
The Lighting power play woes carried over into the next period. Not able to get Anything going. Looking very disorganized. Stamkos had a brilliant look but sent the shot just high and wide. The teams continued to battle. Going into the third 20 minutes separated The Lightning looking to answer their 5-2 loss to Columbus or Carolina who hadn’t seen action since January 18th shaking the rust off.
The Bolts started the 3rd period short handed after Victor Hedman picked up a slashing minor at the end of the 2nd period. The Defending Champions killed off the man advantage continuing their better PK play of recent after it appeared to be a chink in the armor early on.
If anyone had concerns about Vasileskiy after his shaky game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Russian netminder put those concerns to rest absolutely locking down in net. The two teams traded chances throughout the final frame but both Vasilevskiy and Mrazek were dominating. Vasilevskiy made 2 marvelous save on Hurricanes Forwards Jordan Staal and the follow up from Nino Niederreiter on the doorstep. The next goal was more than likely going to be the game winner. The Match remained scoreless heading into the final five minutes of regulation. Both teams tired. Having played a very chippy and physical game. A winner could not be decided in 60 minutes for the 2nd time in 5 games the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to overtime.
Just over 90 seconds into the sudden death overtime Martin Necas scored to give Carolina the win and extra point in the standings. The goalies shined Vasilevskiy putting on an extraordinary 35 save effort and Petr Mrazek getting the 32 save shutout victory. Both teams haven’t been able to play and get into a rhythm a chippy one goal game seems fitting for the matchup. Tampa has dropped its last two, heads home to host the Nashville Predators on Saturday. The Lightning will look to get back on track against a talented Nashville team.