TAMPA, Fla. – A pair of rookies helped the Tampa Bay Lightning end a long losing streak at home.
Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat both scored their first NHL goals, and the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday night to snap their home skid at five.
It is the first time in Lightning history that two players netted their first goal in the same game.
“You look at Johnson and you look at Palat, they made a difference,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said.
Nate Thompson and Teddy Purcell also scored for the Lightning, who are 3-8 in their last 11 games.
Eric Staal scored the only goal for the Hurricanes, who dropped to 3-7 against fellow Southeast Division teams. Coupled with Winnipeg’s 5-4 shootout win over Toronto on Saturday, Carolina fell one point behind the Jets for the division lead.
Tampa Bay, with Mathieu Garon starting in goal each time, has won all three games this season against the Hurricanes. Tampa Bay has beaten three Carolina goalies—Justin Peters, Cam Ward and Dan Ellis—in the process.
“They’ve been strong against us,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. “For a majority of the games, they seem to get that first goal which gives them that different look with their hockey club. They’ve done a good job shutting down our top guys, which hasn’t happened too much this year in our games.”
Carolina claimed Adam Hall off waivers from the Lightning before the game, and the veteran forward made his Hurricanes debut against his former team.
“Coming out, I was looking forward to the challenge of playing against those guys and trying to get a big win,” Hall said. “It didn’t work out for us.”
Johnson put the Lightning ahead 1-0 when he beat Peters from the low left circle with 9:06 left in the first. Tampa Bay (12-15-1) is 11-1 when leading after one period.
“A lot of emotions,” said Johnson, whose parents were in attendance for his second NHL game.
After Palat scored on a redirection that went off his skate on Sami Salo’s shot from the blue line at 6:35 of the second, Thompson made it 3-0 with 7:05 to go in the period with a breakaway goal.
“I went hard to the net … I didn’t see the puck at all,” Palat said. “I just tried to screen the goalie, so I’m happy it went in.”
Purcell scored on a breakaway to put Tampa Bay up 4-0 at 3:54 of the third.
Staal ended Garon’s shutout bid during a breakaway at 6:21.
“I thought we played hard,” Muller said. “The competition was high, and we knew it was going to be a battle. Sometimes you’ve got to give the other team credit. They played a good game. It just wasn’t our night.”
The Hurricanes have allowed at least four goals in 12 of the past 16 games against the Lightning and have a 2-8-2 mark when they do.
Garon stopped three shots by Jordan Staal in the first and second periods. Peters made a glove save on Palat’s diving backhander 7 minutes into the game.
Carolina defenceman Joe Corvo left in the second period because of an undisclosed lower body injury.
NOTES: The Lightning wore green warmup jerseys during the pregame skate in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. … Hurricanes D Joni Pitkanen returned after being sidelined by a lower body injury. … Tampa Bay recalled C Dana Tyrell from Syracuse of the AHL. … Lightning C Tom Pyatt played after missing one game due to an upper body injury.