The “Syracuse Line” Triumphs as the Tampa Bay Lightning Topple the Carolina Hurricanes


Just when you start to talk about the rookies that made their NHL debuts with the Lightning this year, they go and do something spectacular. The “Syracuse Line” played a critical role in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-1 triumph over the former Southeast Division Leaders, the Carolina Hurricanes.

March 16, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (63) is congratulated by left wing Cory Conacher (89) and teamamtes after he scored on goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not one, but two of those rookies would score their first NHL goals in this battle.

The Lightning drew first blood tonight at around 10:54 in the first period as the newly nicknamed “Syracuse Line” stormed Carolina goaltender Justin Peters. In that one moment in time, newly called up center Tyler Johnson scored his first ever NHL goal. The assists on that goal go to center Alex Killorn and LW Cory Conacher.

All three of these players were brought up from the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch this season and made their NHL debuts this year, hence the nickname the “Syracuse Line.”

The scoring would subside until the early moments of the second period when Ondrej Palat, who made his NHL debut with the Lightning on March 4th against the Pittsburgh Penguins, would get a piece of a shot from Sami Salo off of a pass from Tyler Johnson garnering his first ever NHL goal.

A little over six minutes later, Nate Thompson got the drop on Carolina LW Drayson Bowman and fired a beautiful shot on Justin Peters making the score 3-0 Lightning. The assists on that goal went to RW B.J. Crombeen and defenseman Matt Carle.

The Lightning’s final goal of the night would come at 3:54 in the 3rd period when Teddy Purcell got away from Carolina defense man Jay Harrison and shot one right past Peters making the score 4-0.

The Canes would come back with a goal 3 minutes later by center Eric Staal, but ultimately, that would be the end of Carolina’s resurgence.

The Lightning went 0 for 1 on the Power Play tonight, as the Canes were able to kill their lone penalty, which was against defenseman Joe Corvo for Tripping. On a positive note, the Lightning Penalty Kill went 2-2 tonight as they defended a call against Steven Stamkos for Roughing at 11:25 in the third, and a 2 minute bench minor served by Ondrej Palat for Too Many Men on the Ice.

Playing it By the Numbers:

–       The Lightning went 0 for 1 on the Power Play, but went 2 for 2 on the Penalty Kill.

–       The Hurricanes were outshot 26-22 by the Lightning.

–       Faceoff wins were 36-22 in the favor of the Lightning.

–       Mathieu Garon, the winning goaltender, only allowed 1 goal on 22 shots against with a Save % of .955

–       Losing goaltender, Justin Peters allowed 4 goals on 26 shots against for a Save % of .846

–       In his 2nd NHL game, center Tyler Johnson earned two points with 1 goal and 1 assist.

–       Ondrej Palat scored his first NHL goal.

–       4 of the rookies called up from Syracuse this season earned a point in tonight’s encounter.

Fan Reactions:

Notable Quotables:

"It’s awesome. I just try to play hard, and some things went for me. The team played great all around. Our line, I thought played very well. We had a lot of fun while we were on the ice, and I think that was the main goal.”"

– Tyler Johnson when asked about his ability to contribute to the game tonight.

"I thought that the Johnson, Palat, and Tyrell line were the ones that gave us the momentum right off the bat, on their first shift in the first period. They were just everywhere on the ice. We know they’ve got skill, we know they work hard, we know they’re fast, but I think adding Tyrell there gave us someone who could follow their speed and grind it with them, so it was a terrific mix.”"

– Coach Guy Boucher in response to the addition of the young rookies to the Lightning lineup.

The Wrap Up:

I think the Lightning played a good, solid 60 minutes of hockey. For a team that has had its share of issues with getting the offense and defense on the same page, this game was a sigh of relief. While there were a few key errors in the game that did indeed result in the lone goal by Carolina, but they were able to recover without losing their lead.

March 16, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (74) (right) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of the young talent like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Radko Gudas, and the rest of the Lightning rookies has breathed new life into the Lightning lineup. If they can keep this momentum going, the Lightning may still have a chance of getting into the Playoff race this season.

There are two ways for them to get there; one will be much easier than the other. They will either have to climb their way to the top of the Southeast Division, or they will have to overcome the other 7 teams that are grappling for that coveted 8th spot in the conference. Five other teams, including the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders are within 8 points of the current number 8 spot, the Carolina Hurricanes. No matter which way you slice it, the Lightning are going to have an uphill battle.

However, if tonight is any indication of the Lightning’s future, I think anyone who stands in the way of our Bolts will be in for one heck of a fight.

What do you think of the Bolts’ stellar performance tonight against the Hurricanes? What do you think the addition of the young NHL rookies has done for the Lightning lineup? Sound off in the comments below, and let your voice be heard. We may just use one of your comments in an upcoming Bolts by the Bay article.

Be sure to stay up-to-date with all the latest Lightning news and updates with Bolts By the BayLIKE us on Facebook at Bolts By The Bay, and you can follow us on Twitter at @BoltsByTheBay.