Carolina came out pumped up for its home opener, but Tampa Bay took the air right out of the celebration.
After a poor showing the day before, the Lightning came out with a more forceful effort on Tuesday, scoring twice in the opening period en route to a 4-1 victory against the Hurricanes in front of an announced sellout crowd of 18,680 at PNC Arena. It's the second consecutive season Tampa Bay has spoiled Carolina's home opener.
Mathieu Garon made 35 stops in his season debut, while Tom Pyatt, Cory Conacher, Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone all scored in support of their goaltender. Tampa Bay also blocked 23 shots.
But it might have been two assists by captain Vinny Lecavalier that led the way.
"I think Vinny sets the tone for this team,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "There were things we had discussed that we were horrible at (Monday) and we wanted the puck deeper and created tons of turnovers at the other team's blue line (on Monday) that gave the other team a ton of chances.
"And Vinny, right off the bat putting pucks right on net, walking in and forcing himself in with deep work. I think today Vinny did it again, he set the tone and he's doing terrific work as the captain, I've asked him for that before the season started and he's been terrific.''
Lecavalier did just that on the first goal, taking a pass from Matt Carle into the zone before circling back toward the boards to throw a backhand pass on goal where Pyatt was able to bat the puck out of midair and knock it past Cam Ward at 5:18 of the first period.
The captain showed another strong effort on the second goal, coming off the end boards and taking the puck right to the crease where Conacher — who has points in all three games to start his NHL career — was able to follow up and put a loose puck into the net at 11:36 for a 2-0 lead.
Strong start helps Tampa Bay Lightning handle Carolina
Tampa Tribune | Jan 23