TAMPA, Fla. – Johan Holmqvist was happy with the win. His teammates were disappointed the Lightning goalie missed a shutout by seconds.
Holmqvist made 23 saves, and Vincent Lecavalier scored his 19th goal of the season in the Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. “I didn’t really care, as long as we win the game,” Holmqvist said. “It was a little different game. There was not a lot of action the first period and a half. Then they had some good chances on the power play. The guys played really hard in front of me the whole night long.”
Holmqvist, who stopped in-close tries by Justin Williams and Cory Stillman during a Carolina power play late in the second, came within 14 seconds of his first shutout of the season and second in 77 career NHL games.
“You always want to follow through on that and it didn’t happen,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “I thought we did a very good job defensively. When they had chances, Homer was fantastic.”
Holmqvist’s only shutout came last Feb. 1 at Carolina, 45 games ago.
Lecavalier put the Lightning up 1-0 on a power-play goal 16 minutes into the second.
Tampa Bay also got a third-period goal from Martin St. Louis. The Lightning have won three in a row following a six-game losing streak.
Cam Ward made 32 saves for the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who have lost four of six. Cory Stillman scored with 14 seconds left.
“It’s always a challenge when you’re coming in here and playing the Lightning,” Ward said. “For the most part, we did a pretty good job on not giving them the high-quality scoring chances like we have in previous games against them.”
A lacklustre first period – in which Carolina was called for icing five times and had five shots – did finish with two excellent scoring during the final minute.
Carolina’s Tim Gleason, who had just finished serving a minor penalty, had his shot on a breakaway hit the crossbar. Lecavalier had his drive from the top of the left circle stopped by Ward, who made 11 saves in the period.
The second, sparked by a fight between Shane O’Brien of Tampa Bay and the Hurricanes’ Andrew Ladd three seconds into the period, had an improved tempo. The Lightning did outshoot Carolina 9-2 over the first eight minutes and 16-9 in the period.
The Lightning finally broke the scoreless tie on Lecavalier’s second-period goal, which came shortly after Carolina’s Ray Whitney knocked St. Louis’ shot, which had trickled past Ward, away from the net just before it crossed the red line.
St. Louis made it 2-0 on a power-play goal with 7:15 left in the third.
Stillman had six shots, including four in the third.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t score, especially in a close game,” Stillman said. “I had two or three quality chances in the crease, and they don’t go in. I needed to score tonight.”
Notes: Carolina defencemen Niclas Wallin (shoulder) and Mike Commodore (finger) didn’t play, but could return in the near future. … Lecavalier also had an assist, giving him 22 goals and 51 points in 50 games against Carolina. … Hurricanes C Matt Cullen and RW Scott Walker both played in their 700th NHL game. … Carolina D Glen Wesley has played in 1,408 NHL games, which is one away from tying Paul Coffey for ninth place among defencemen.