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NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Carolina

(Tuesday, December 20th)

Final Score: Carolina 6, Tampa Bay 4

Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Matt Cullen broke a tie game early in the third period and Eric Staal netted two goals and added an assist, as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-4, at RBC Center.

Justin Williams had a goal and two assists while Erik Cole contributed a goal and a helper for the Hurricanes, who have won four straight games.

Martin Gerber made 20 saves for Carolina, which defeated Tampa Bay for the first time at home in eight games.

Vaclav Prospal and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who have lost two straight and three of their last four games. Sean Burke made 24 saves in defeat.

With the game tied at 4-4, the Hurricanes scored two power-play goals in the third period to take control.

Staal brought the puck into the Tampa Bay zone, skated around a checker and from behind the right side of the net threw a centering pass to Cullen in the slot. Cullen then snapped a one-timer that went into the left corner of the net just 3:05 into the last session.

"You've got to love the way he [Staal] took charge of the game tonight," said Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette. "It was a big game for us."

Williams added an insurance goal on a beautifully executed play to give the Hurricanes a 6-4 lead with 7:50 remaining in the game.

Tampa Bay pulled its goaltender while on the power play in the last two minutes of the game. However, the Lightning were unable to score.

The visitors opened up the scoring with a power-play tally. Brad Richards fired a shot from the right point that was deflected in front by Fredrik Modin into the net to make it a 1-0 game just 3:36 into the game.

However, the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead with goals separated by just 1:57. Cole got the puck to Staal alone in front of the net and Burke made the first save, but Staal backhanded his rebound into the net at the 6:41 mark of the first period. Then, moments later, Andrew Hutchinson fired a wrist shot from the right circle that dinged off the crossbar and into the net for his first goal of the season.

Tampa Bay, though, tied the game up just 16 seconds later. Rob DiMaio fought off a check and dropped a pass to Vincent Lecavalier at the right circle. Lecavalier then spotted Prospal cutting into the zone and hit him with a pass at the left circle, where the center one-timed it into the net at the 8:54 mark of the opening period.

Carolina took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission thanks to Staal. The puck wound up deep in the right corner and Staal fought it out with two Tampa Bay players, but wound up with the puck. He then fired a shot along the ice from low in the right circle that squeezed between Burke's pads with 1:45 left.

The Hurricanes made it a 4-2 game at the 7:51 mark of the second stanza as Cory Stillman charged into the Lightning zone and got put the puck on net. Cole tipped the disc and Burke made the save, but it popped up and Cole smacked it out of mid-air and into the net.

The Lightning came back, though, to tie the game up with two goals before the end of the second period. Ryan Craig poked the puck in during a scrum in front of the net with 3:33 left in the session to make it 4-3 and St. Louis then tied the game up with a backhand over Gerber's glove in the final seconds of the period for his 13th goal of the season.

"Some guys are trending upwards, some guys are trending downwards," said Lightning coach John Tortorella. "We just haven't been able to get everybody going at the same time. I like the way we battled back."

Game Notes

The Hurricanes host the Panthers on Friday...Tampa Bay travels to New York for a game against the Rangers on Thursday...This was the fifth time this season Carolina has scored six or more goals in a game...Cullen also had an assist in the game...Tampa Bay went 2-for-6 on the power play...The Hurricanes were 3- for-9 with the man advantage.

12/20 23:59:11 ET

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