The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided the season sweep at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, outlasting the Canes for a 4-3 win in overtime. The Lightning never led for a second of the game and were forced to come back from a one goal deficit on three different occasions, all without scoring a single 5-on-5 goal.
Steven Stamkos scored the overtime winner on the power play as the Lightning pushed their win streak to three games. Nikita Kucherov recorded three assists as well during what has been a fairly dry stretch for him on the scoresheet.
Let’s break down what happened.
1. The Powerplay Keeps Going
It might be a bit of a broken record over the course of this three-game streak, but the Lightning powerplay is winning them games and dragging them out of their recent slump. Three of the Lightning’s four goals all came on the man advantage as they now have six powerplay goals in their last three games.
2. Finding Different Ways to Win
Carolina is one of the most difficult teams in the NHL to play against. They do not give up much and they certainly did not in this one, despite playing in the second of a back-to-back. In addition to scoring three powerplay goals, the other Lightning goal was a 4-on-4 goal by Victor Hedman as Carolina bent but did not break while defending at 5-on-5. In these playoff type games, teams have to find different ways to win, and it was the powerplay that made a big difference for Tampa Bay in this one.
3. Stamkos Reaches 30
With his overtime winner, Steven Stamkos reached the 30-goal plateau for the seventh time of his career. With multiple COVID and injury shortened seasons, he could have had even more years of 30 or more. He earned first star of the game honors with a pair of assists to go along with the game winner.
4. Dominating the Game
Tampa Bay controlled the majority of the possession and scoring opportunities, despite never scoring at 5-on-5. They held Carolina to 19 shots on goal and just five in the third period. The Hurricanes still managed to push across three goals, all of which came on perfect redirections or tap ins to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. You have to nearly perfect to beat him when he is on, and Carolina was able to make the most of their limited opportunities.
5. Points they had to have
The two points in this game were huge, particularly because of the intensity of the schedule that still lies ahead down the stretch. After these next two days off, there is only one game the entire rest of the season in which they will have two days before playing. This weekend even contains another back-to-back as we head down to the most jam-packed portion of the season with the points being more valuable than ever.