Following a flat effort from the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday on Long Island, the Bolts came out ready to play for the second half of the back to back in Raleigh.
The Carolina Hurricanes debuted their new forward group in front of their home fans as both Jordan Staal and Alex Semin played for the first time at home in Carolina sweaters.
However the warm reception at home wouldn't last for long as the Lightning jumped on the Canes early.
Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier drove the play in the first period, first with a filthy saucer pass to a streaking Tom Pyatt who tipped the puck out of mid-air and behind Canes goaltender Cam Ward for a 1-0 Lightning lead.
Lecavalier later won a battle behind the net and drove the puck towards the crease. Although he was unable to bang it home rookie sensation Cory Conacher was there to clean up the garbage, putting home his second NHL goal for a 2-0 lead.
From there, the Lightning looked a little passive and lethargic, almost as if they expected a two goal lead to be enough to win the game.
The Canes responded with a strong second period. Alex Semin hit a crossbar on a PP and also missed an empty net after Bolts goaltender Mathieu Garon was out of position.
Jeff Skinner finally found the back of the net for Carolina off a rebound, backhanding a shot behind a sprawled Garon while on the man advantage during the second period.
That was the only puck that found the net for Carolina, however, who have totaled two goals in 120 mins of game time after falling 5-1 to the Florida Panthers in their season opener on the road.
The expensive new-look offense has so far been surprisingly inert, and in a shortened season, that may leave the Canes outside the playoff picture in the East if they don't get things fixed quickly.
Defenseman Keith Aulie added a third period goal, his first in a Lightning sweater, and Ryan Malone also scored late in the game off a rebound on the power play, the Bolts' first power play marker since the opener against the Washington Capitals.
New additions Matt Carle and Sami Salo have been tremendous so far for the Lightning, taking pressure off minute-eaters Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman and forcing depth defenseman like Aulie, Brendan Mikkelson, and Brian Lee down the depth chart where they're playing more protected minutes against lesser competition.
All of that spells good news for a Lightning squad that is looking to get back into the playoff picture after a disappointing finish to the 2011-2012 season.
Mathieu Garon finished the game with 35 saves on 36 shots, allowing only the Skinner PP marker in the 2nd period.
Guy Boucher has yet to announce a starter for Friday night's match-up against the Ottawa Senators, but the Lightning need not worry about a goaltender controversy. Both Anders Lindback and Garon came into this season expecting to split the work and good outings by both netminders through the first three games is a good thing for the Lightning rather than a source of discord.Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Cory Conacher, Hockey, Mathieu Garon, NHL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning
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