NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Tampa Bay
(Saturday, December 31st)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Carolina 2
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Steven Stamkos recorded his second hat trick of the season to fuel Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over Carolina on Saturday evening.
Steve Downie added a goal and two assists for the Lightning, who have won three in a row and five of seven.
"There's a lot of teams ahead of us and the only way to catch them is to keep winning," said Stamkos.
Teddy Purcell also lit the lamp, while Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone each posted three helpers to back a 24-save performance by Mathieu Garon.
Jay Harrison and Justin Faulk scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost two of three.
Cam Ward was dented for all five goals on 32 shots.
With the score tied at 2-2, Stamkos finished the trifecta during a man advantage at the 43-second mark of the third period, when his rising blast from the left circle from a St. Louis dish sailed by Ward over his shoulder on the far side.
Tampa took a 4-2 lead just 22 seconds later when Purcell blew past three defenders on the left wing, cut in and beat Ward over his glove.
Downie provided a three-goal bulge prior to the seven-minute mark when his wrister landed just under the crossbar from between the circles.
"You need to be ready to play three periods," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said. "Tampa was ready in the third and we weren't. They outplayed us."
Stamkos potted a St. Louis feed off a 2-on-1 rush at 3:22 of the opening period, but Faulk's power-play score with 3:48 to play evened things at the intermission.
Carolina took a 2-1 lead on a power play as Harrison wristed home an Eric Staal dish from the right side at 4:29 of the second period, but Stamkos tied the game at 8:17 by snaking his way through the middle of the ice and lifting a shot over Ward.
Stamkos collected his fifth career hat trick, with his previous one coming in a 5-4 win at Chicago on November 4...St. Louis posted his 500th career assist on Stamkos' final goal...During the game, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman revealed that defenseman Victor Hedman is out indefinitely with a concussion...Staal recorded two assists in defeat.
01/01 00:30:24 ET