Fresh off a four-game road trip the Carolina Hurricanes were hoping a little home cooking would be all they need to get back in the win column. Turns out the ice at home was just as unkind as it was on the road.
Carolina dropped its second game in a row, falling to Tampa Bay, 5-1, in its first home game since Oct. 10.
The Hurricanes (3-3-1) almost made it through the first period without surrendering a goal, but Tampa Bay (8-1-1) was able to sneak one in at the 19:25 mark. Tyler Johnson, off the assist from Ondrei Palat, got one pass goalie Scott Darling to start the scoring.
Carolina started the game aggressive, at one time having a 7-5 shots on goal advantage. But the Lightning asserted itself, taking five shots to the Canes none before the break. Tampa Bay was able to take advantage of its only power play, while Carolina got nothing out of its two in the first period.
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Less than one minute into the second period the Canes found themselves at a disadvantage right out the gate as Justin Williams was called for slashing. At the 9:13 mark, the Lightning found the back of the net again, this time on a goal from Mikhail Sergachev off the assist from Steven Stamkos to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
The Hurricanes missed a golden opportunity to score in the second period, with Williams missing from point-blank range at the 3:43 mark, a shot that barely bounced off the glove of Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I thought we had some chances,” Canes head coach Bill Peters said. “I thought we had some power-play opportunities all three periods and didn’t take advantage. We ended up 0-for-4 and best power play was probably our last one.”
Carolina was finally able to break through the Vasilevskiy wall when Jaccob Slavin found an alley in the shooting lane and got one to go in, making it 2-1 with 16:32 remaining. It was the first time all night the Hurricanes were able to take advantage of a power play and the second goal of the season for Slavin.
“It was a little bit of a scramble,” Slavin said about his goal. “Once (Brett) Pesce got it to me I was thinking put it on it. There were a lot of bodies in there and it ended up going in.”
The Lightning scored two empty net goals in the final three minutes to double the lead on the Hurricanes. Vladislav Namestnikov scored with 2:33 remaining in the game followed by a goal from Ryan Callahan with less than one minute showing on the clock. The Hurricanes went to sleep with four seconds remaining, allowing Nikita Kucherov to score, extending his point streak to 10 games.
“They have a lot of talent, and they are a deep team,” Slavin said about Tampa Bay. “They have a lot of speed and a lot of skill on that team.”
Peters liked the activity he got from his fourth line but knows the team has to better offensively.
“I didn’t think we were as good as we can be with the puck,” Peters said. “Offensively, I didn’t think that we executed.”
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Carolina travels to Toronto on Thursday for a showdown with the Maple Leafs.