The Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t figure out how to score on Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta at 5-on-5. They found other ways to do it.
Steven Stamkos scored the Lightning’s third power play goal of the night, getting alone in the slot and firing a shot past Raanta 52 seconds into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 win in the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season.
“I think overall, the whole game we probably didn’t have our best but still managed to get to the overtime,” Raanta said. “And they got a (power play) and … that’s the game there and they score.”
The Lightning got four power play opportunities to Carolina’s two — and they made the most of them.
Tampa Bay center Brayden Point scored 6:02 into the third period to tie the game with Brett Pesce in the penalty box for tripping, and the Lightning’s other two goals — a first period power play goal by Alex Killorn and a 4-on-4 goal by Victor Hedman — were enough to give the home team two points.
No penalty stung more than the one in overtime when Jordan Staal was called for holding after the officials had allowed the teams to play at even strength for the last 14 minutes of regulation.
“Yeah, that sucks,” rookie Seth Jarvis said following the loss. “I think, obviously, you don’t want to take penalties, but especially at a time like that. You don’t like that that’s the way to decide the game, and it leaves kind of a bad taste in your mouth.”
Brind’Amour didn’t have much to say about the Staal penalty being called after much of the third period the officials let the team play through some clutching and grabbing.
“Agreed. Good observation,” he said. “Tough.”
The Hurricanes were outshot 32-19, but for the third straight game they found a way to make the most of their chances.
Jarvis continued his hot play, scoring at 8:41 of the second period by redirecting a Teuvo Teravainen saucer pass past Andrei Vasilevskiy (16 saves) to reestablish Carolina’s one-goal lead at 2-1.
“It feels a lot better when you win,” said Jarvis, who also assisted on a goal and now has four multipoint games in his last seven. “So right now, we’re just kind of focusing on the outcome. But yeah, my conference — it’s good.”
The Hurricanes, however, very much looked like a team that was playing for the third time in four nights on a road trip that trekked through the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Florida peninsula.
“Not only physically but mentally, we were just a step slow,” Brind’Amour said. “You can just see it. … The schedule caught up to us a little bit. Every team has it at this stage, and you could see it tonight.”
One player who looked sharp was Raanta (28 saves), who was a hard-luck loser on a night in which he kept Carolina in the game with several spectacular stops, perhaps none better than his glove save on Point with 13:30 left in regulation and the game tied 3-3.
“Give credit to Rants,” Brind’Amour said. “He kind of held us in there.”
Despite being outshot 10-4 in the opening 20 minutes, Carolina headed to the first intermission up 1-0.
The lone goal of the period came courtesy of the Hurricanes’ suffocating forecheck. Staal first pressured Tampa Bay defenseman Cal Foote behind the Lightning net. The Lightning couldn’t control Foote’s pass up the sideboards and Hurricanes defenseman Ian Cole worked the puck back up the boards to Nino Niederreiter.
Niederreiter got the puck back to Staal below the goal line and crashed toward the net, and Staal looked off a defender and set up Niederreiter for his 21st goal of the year at 7:59 of the first period.
Tampa Bay did manage to parlay its strong opening period into a goal.
Cole was called for hooking at the end of the first period, giving the Lightning a power play to start the second that they converted. Killorn was given space to Raanta’s left and closed in and shot under the Carolina goalie’s blocker to tie the game.
The Hurricanes and Lightning exchanged goals again later in the period, and Jarvis’ go-ahead goal only provided a short-lived lead.
With play at 4-on-4, Hedman got free in the middle of the ice and snapped a shot past Raanta just 62 seconds after the Hurricanes had gone ahead to knot the game at 2-2.
Sebastian Aho then got his 30th goal of the season by outbattling Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak — weighing in at about 60 pounds heavier than the Carolina center — in front of Vasilevskiy and redirecting a Tony DeAngelo backhand into the net at 16:47 of the second.
“All smart hockey players know to score goals, that’s where you have to get to,” Brind’Amour said. “The other night he got a very skilled goal. He has that ability and the talent. To score goals, more than a couple, you have to get to the net. … You’ve got to get to the dirty areas.”
The goal was the 175th of his career, all with the Hurricanes, and moved Aho past his coach into 10th place on the franchise’s goal-scoring list.
The third period and overtime belonged to the Lightning power play, and the Hurricanes had to take solace in heading back to Raleigh with five out of a possible six points against three playoff-bound teams.
“If you look at it as a whole road trip, you say that’s a great road trip,” Brind’Amour said. “We don’t look at it that way. Tonight wasn’t a great game.”
Notes: Steven Lorentz got back into the lineup with Jesperi Kotkaniemi not playing after being injured Monday in Washington. Lorentz finished with 7:39 of ice time. … Teravainen extended his assist streak to five straight games and has seven assists during that stretch. … After playing nine straight games against teams currently in a playoff spot, Carolina will face only four such teams in the last 15 games of the regular season.