NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Carolina
(Saturday, January 20th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 6, Carolina 5 (SO)
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Vinny Prospal scored the lone tally in the fourth round of the shootout, lifting the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-5, at the RBC Center in the final game for both teams before the All-Star break.
Prospal notched his first career shootout marker in three attempts, besting Carolina netminder Cam Ward with a quick wrist shot to the stick side. Prospal also had a goal in two assists in regulation, as the suddenly red-hot Lightning posted their seventh win in eight contests.
Martin St. Louis also had a goal and two assists on the night, setting a Tampa Bay Lightning record by recording a point in 14 straight games. Marc Denis made 30 saves between the regulation and overtime sessions, then turned aside shots by Rod Brind'Amour, Justin Williams and Eric Staal in the shootout.
"I think it was a game that certainly looked like a game before the break coming up," said Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella. "The biggest point with our team tonight was just the fight that they had. This is a big reason why we have crawled back into the race, because of how hard they are competing and fighting. That's what they did tonight."
Staal tallied twice in the contest while Scott Walker finished with a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who have dropped three of the first five during a seven game stretch against Southeast Division rivals. Ward turned aside 24 of 29 shots in a losing cause.
"There are too many inconsistencies with our forwards right now, and when that happens you have to look somewhere else," said Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette. "People's ice time will diminish, other people will get opportunities and they will have to make the best of it. Andrew got an opportunity tonight. I thought that he was excellent, he was physical, he skated, he got to the net, and he was an impact player in tonight's game."
With the game tied at 4-4, Walker lit the lamp nearly midway through the final stanza, putting Carolina back on top. He took the slapshot against a screened Denis, and the puck appeared to ricochet off the skate of Andrew Ladd and past the netminder at 9:31 to make it 5-4. Walker was later given credit for the score.
Tampa Bay answered with 2:54 remaining in the game, as Prospal threaded a soft pass to Filip Kuba, who came in off the right side and ripped the puck past Ward to make it 5-5 and send the game into overtime.
The Lightning improved to 10-2 in their last 12 one-goal decisions.
The Hurricanes stormed to an early lead on the strength of their power play. Denis made a nice pad save on the initial slapshot by Andrew Hutchinson, but Walker managed to coral the puck in traffic and shovel it right to the stick of Staal, who knocked it past the netminder at 5:32, just 13 ticks into the man-advantage.
The Bolts needed just 1:19 to pull even, as St. Louis circled the net and had a chance on the wraparound. The puck, however, rolled off his stick and right to Prospal, who moved in and tucked it under the left arm of Ward to tie the game at 1-1.
The defense tightened up on both sides before Carolina grabbed the 2-1 lead late in the first. Anton Babchuk started the play by threading a pass through the crease, and Walker collected it and charged behind the net. The right winger then dished to Staal, who pulled the trigger and sent a snapshot through the five-hole with 1:37 remaining in the stanza.
Carolina went up 3-1 just 34 ticks into the second period, as Ray Whitney got credit for the tip-in goal before the Lightning answered right back.
St. Louis once again served as the spark plug for the Tampa Bay charge, deking around a pair of defenders before dropping the puck to the trailing Vincent Lecavalier, who ripped it past Ward at 3:22 to pull his team within a goal.
A little more than four minutes expired before Babchuk rifled a long slapshot from just inside the blue line, which Ladd deflected past Denis as Carolina reclaimed its two goal margin at 7:35.
Before they could even announce the 'Canes goal to the home crowd, the Lightning once again trimmed their deficit to 4-3. Nikita Alexeev battled Walker along the left boards, then took control of the puck and dished to Paul Ranger, whose wrist shot sailed into the top left corner of the net.
St. Louis then got credit for a goal off a double deflection, knotting the game at 4-4 with 7:58 remaining in the second.
The Hurricanes are 0-4 in shootouts this season...Tampa Bay improved to 5-1 in shootouts...St. Louis has scored at least 30 goals in four consecutive seasons. He now has 20 goals in 32 games against Carolina, while Lecavalier has 34 points in 43 games against the Hurricanes.
01/21 00:32:56 ET