In an extremely fast-paced contest, the Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 at PNC Arena on Monday night.
You could tell from the first period this was going to be a dogfight. Tampa Bay dominated the play for the most part all night and Carolina was going to need to dig really deep to get points out of this one. It was easy to predict the Stanley Cup Champions starting fast coming off a disappointing 4-0 loss.
The first period was all Tampa Bay except for on the scoreboard. The first ten minutes featured a barrage of shots from the Bolts, and James Reimer stood on his head, making some incredible saves. The Canes killed two first-period penalties before getting their first of the night.
Sure enough, a couple seconds after the penalty expired, Jesper Fast buried his first as a Carolina Hurricane to send the Canes up into the intermission. Fast was the best player on the ice for Carolina tonight, being heavy on the forecheck and finishing his chances in tight.
I said before the game that special teams would be big tonight against a team of Tampa Bay’s caliber. Steven Stamkos buried his patented one-timer on the power-play to tie it and not long after, a snipe from Victor Hedman made it 2-1 Bolts. You could see the championship experience of the Lightning. Despite not scoring in the first, they kept at it and made things hard for Carolina.
Prior to the end of the second period, the bright spot came up big again for the Hurricanes. A diving Jesper Fast lifted Brett Pesce‘s wrister over Andrei Vasilevskiy on the power-play to knot things at two. Special teams for both clubs affected the final score.
A hard-fought, physical third period leaned the way of the Lightning. A defensive error by Brady Skjei led to Ondrej Palat‘s go-ahead goal and Alex Killorn‘s empty-netter put the game away. Andrei Vasilevskiy was exceptional, shutting down the Canes’ big chances in the third.
Overall, there are some positives still to take from this game for the Carolina Hurricanes. Firstly, they didn’t play their best game and still hung tough with Tampa Bay. That shows a lot about the quality of this team as well as the steps being taken to push the top teams in the league.
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Secondly, you have to love the play of Jesper Fast. Like I said, he was Carolina’s best player and his play of late was rewarded Monday night. The depth scoring is something to behold to start the year, and hopefully that will continue.
I also want to highlight Jake Bean once again. I love this guy. His ability to create offense from the defense is awesome to watch and he showed off his skating ability, moving from the blue line into the slot to get better scoring chances. His budding potential is on full display.
The power-play continues to be great, but they need to stay out of the box against great teams like Tampa Bay. If they keep taking penalties in the last games of this mini-series, the Bolts will make them pay.
Overall, a tough game for the Canes, but it was expected the Lightning to come out firing. I expect a big bounce back from the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night in the Bay.