TAMPA, Fla. – The line of Jiri Tlusty, Alexander Semin and Eric Staal did it all for the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
Jiri Tlusty scored twice, Semin had a goal and two assists and Staal chipped in with a pair of assists—all in the first period—to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.
Dan Ellis stopped 34 shots to make a 3-0 lead stand up and help Carolina to its first win over Tampa Bay this season.
“We came out hard, and that was the difference in the first period,” Tlusty said. “We kept it going throughout the game.”
Semin scored for Carolina 16 seconds in, taking a feed in the slot from Staal and whipping it over the shoulder of Lightning goalie Andres Lindback.
Tlusty’s first goal came shortly after the Hurricanes failed to score on a power play when he dumped the puck on goal from inside the blue line and it bounced off of Lindback’s pads and into the back of the net.
Later in the period, Tlusty was stationed in front of the net and was in the perfect position to direct a deflection off of Staal’s shot past Lindback.
“I don’t know what the problem is with us in first periods,” said Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. “We always battle back hard from being down in games, which is the good part, but we would rather be up a few goals in the first instead of behind.”
The Lightning, who lost their sixth straight game, got on the board with a power-play goal from Steven Stamkos in the second period—his 28th goal of the season.
Martin St. Louis added a third-period goal to narrow the deficit to 3-2 but Ellis turned away the final 12 shots he faced, including point-blank opportunities by Eric Brewer, Ryan Malone and B.J. Crombeen.
“(Ellis) stepped up and had a good, strong game,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “That’s what you need from him. His performance was good.
“They’ve had our number recently, but I think it was just important to us because we had a tough game last night and the guys have been playing so hard through the stretch. We got off track last night and we wanted to get back on track tonight and do the right things and we did.”
With less than 20 seconds left, the Lightning pulled Lindback and created a lot of traffic in front of Ellis but could not tie the game.
“I have gotten lit up by this team forever so this was a good night,” Ellis said. “They play with a lot of pride and so do we. We are not pushing for playoff spots but we are pushing to honour our fans, honour the crest on our jersey.”
St. Louis got his league-leading 42nd assist on Stamkos’ goal and his 55 points are only one behind injured Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby for the league lead.
Notes: Staal thought he had a goal in the second period but officials declared his shot deflected off Brewer’s skate but did not completely cross the goal line. A video review upheld the call. … In their previous four contests this season, the Lightning outscored the Hurricanes 18-4. … Semin has 31 assists this season. … The Lightning outshot the Hurricanes 16-4 in the third period.