TAMPA, Fla. – Eric Staal scored the tying and winning goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Mark Recchi, Janne Niskala and Vinny Lecavalier scored for Tampa, which led 3-0 about nine minutes into the second period. The loss denied new Lightning coach Barry Melrose his first victory since 1995, when he left coaching to join ESPN as an analyst.
Staal tied the score at 9:56 of the third period, prompting Lightning goalie Mike Smith to shatter his stick with two hard slams on the crossbar. Staal then got the game-winner from the left circle with 23.6 seconds remaining in the extra period.
Rod Brind’Amour and Matt Cullen also scored for Carolina.
Tampa Bay scored twice in a 2:07 span midway through the first period, matching its goal production in a pair of 2-1 losses to the New York Rangers a week earlier in the Czech Republic.
Recchi opened the scoring, tapping his own rebound past Hurricanes goalie Michael Leighton 8:20 in. Rookie defenceman Niskala scored his first goal on a power play at the 10:27 mark.
Lecavalier made it 3-0 with another power-play goal on a slapshot from the right circle nine minutes into the second. Tampa Bay failed to score with a man advantage in its first two games.
Carolina broke through with nine seconds remaining in the second period, when Brind’Amour redirected a shot by Joni Pitkanen past Smith. Brind’Amour set up Cullen’s goal 1:56 into the third to make it 3-2.
Smith finished with 42 saves. Leighton stopped 26 shots.
Notes: Carolina recovered from a two-goal deficit to win its season opener against Florida on Friday night. … Lightning defenceman Lukas Krajicek, acquired in a trade with Vancouver on Monday, finally resolved immigration issues and arrived only hours before playing alongside his new teammates. … Game 2 of the American League championship series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox was shown on television sets throughout the concourse and projected on the wall of a parking garage adjacent to the arena.