Mathieu Garon held Carolina off for two periods before Tampa Bay’s youth brigade keyed a late surge Saturday night in a 5-2 triumph that lifted the Lightning into sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division.
The Lightning, who had won only twice in six road games, improved to 6-1 in the division while taking a two-point lead over the Hurricanes, who are 0-4 against Southeast opponents.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron’s first-period goal staked Tampa Bay to a 1-0 advantage through 40 minutes before Benoit Pouliot, rookie Richard Panik, Tom Pyatt and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning in the final period.
“They feed on odd-man rushes and we didn’t give them much tonight,’’ Bergeron said. “When we’re solid defensively, like tonight, other teams get impatient. And when they do, we don’t need too many breaks to score.’’
Pouilot’s sixth goal of the season put Tampa Bay ahead 2-0 at the 2:11 mark of the third period, but Drayson Bowman spoiled Garon’s shutout bid 53 seconds later when he blasted a slap shot from the high slot for his first goal of the season.
Playing in his sixth NHL game, Panik restored Tampa Bay’s two-goal lead with a brilliant individual effort. Ex-Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis stopped Panik’s initial shot from the right circle, but the 22-year-old winger battered his own rebound around the net while maintaining possession before beating Ellis with a backhander.
“I was real excited,’’ Panik said. “I think we played very well tonight, sticking to our system.’’
Youth keys late outburst as Tampa Bay Lightning top Carolina
Tampa Tribune | Feb 24