Can lightning strike in the same place more than once? The answer unfortunately is yes as the Hurricanes fell in the home opener against the Tampa Bay Lighting, 5-1. 18,680 fans were on their feet and ready to avenge last season’s heartbreaking 6-2 loss in the final game, but they would come away without a win to celebrate.
Jeff Skinner scored what would be the Canes only goal of the game at the 8:07 mark of the first period with assists by Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu. The Canes outshot the Lightning 16-12 in the first period and for a while it looked as though the Canes might have shaken veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson. But he came away with the win making 32 stops, including an amazing grab that sent him spinning on the ice on his back like a windmill. Cam Ward took the loss in net for the Canes.
Martin St. Louis would put the first point on the board for the Bolts in the second with a wrister on an assist from Steven Stamkos, the first of two he would tally in the evening. The Canes had actually come out strong in the beginning of the second with solid shifts that got ovations from the crowd, but at the end of the period things started to fall apart. Justin Faulk made a rookie mistake and took a bad penalty for interference at 17:31. In an uncharacteristic move, Jussi Jokinen lost his cool, hit the puck towards the referee and exchanged words with the official. He earned an unsportsmanlike call and joined Faulk in the box leaving the Lighting in a 5 on 3 situation. The Bolts moved ahead of the Canes 19 seconds later with a goal by Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier. He was assisted on the goal by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, a triple threat that clearly demonstrated why the Bolts made it into the playoffs last year.
Steve Downie, Adam Hall and Ryan Malone scored 3 more insurance goals in the third to make the final score 5-1. Sadly the trio of goals wasn’t the only low point of the third as we saw captain Eric Staal head to the box for interference as he skated into Dwayne Roloson behind the net. The Canes ended the night with 6 penalties to the Bolts 5, which also included their interference on the goalkeeper. Staal ended the evening a -2 with only 27% in the face off circle.
My Observations from Inside the RBC:
- Joni Pitkanen led the team once again in TOI putting in 24:18. He played a solid game tonight.
- The summaries say Zac Dalpe had over 10 minutes on the ice but it sure didn’t feel like it.
- Faulk made some rookie mistakes included the tide turning penalty, but for a rookie in his first NHL regular season game I thought he played fairly well. Especially considering the lines he was matched up against.
- Josef Vasicek was featured in a moving tribute by John Forslund and got stick taps from all of the players. Just another illustration of the closeness of the hockey community.
- Saw a textbook faceoff win by Tim Brent that really impressed me.
- Tomas Kaberle is a slow skater.
- I was really disappointed in the penalties by Staal and Jokinen.
- I still haven’t seen anything from Jiri Tlusty that wows me.
- I really didn’t like the line combinations that were played tonight especially the line with Jokinen and LaRose.
- Playing Thunderstruck in your arena as a pump up song against the Lightning is a bad idea.
The Canes face Eastern conference rivals the Caps tomorrow at 7pm in the nation’s capital. Check back here for Dan’s preview in the morning and I’ll recap the action after the game. Head over to Capitals Outsider for more info about the opposition.
Topics: Adam Hall, Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Josef Vasicek, Jussi Jokinen, Justin Faulk, Martin St. Louis, Opening Night, Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tim Brent, Vincent Lecavalier, Zac Dalpe