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Lightning Keep Season Alive with Win over Hurricanes

Tampa Bay doesn’t have much of a problem dealing with Hurricanes.

For the third time this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning (12-15-1) disposed of the Carolina Hurricanes, defeating them 4-1 on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The victory provided a positive glimpse into the future while keeping the Lightning’s playoff chances on life support for at least another day.

First and foremost, the win brought the Bolts within seven points of the first-place Winnipeg Jets and within six points of Carolina. Tampa Bay also claimed sole possession of third place in the Southeast.

With two games left against each team, Saturday night’s victory is an important step towards keeping the Bolts’ season alive.

“We’ve been playing like this 14 of our last 16 games,” coach Guy Boucher said. “We just didn’t get the result in the other games…It’s good to be rewarded.”

While Boucher may be aggrandizing a bit for the sake of his occupation, there is no doubt the Lightning played well against the Hurricanes. It was easily the best game they have played in probably a month.

And for one night, the future is bright for Tampa Bay, as the young guns were the ones who led the way in the four-goal outburst. Former Syracuse Crunch players Ondrej Palat, Dana Tyrell and Tyler Johnson led the way, as their line was on the ice for two of Tampa Bay’s goals.

“It’s good that there’s kids coming in, and they show that kind of drive and that speed,” Boucher said. “We need that. We need speed in the NHL.”

Palat and Johnson each scored their first career NHL goal in the game, the first time the Tampa Bay franchise has had two players score their first career goals in the same game.

“I didn’t quite know what to do after,” Johnson said. “It’s something I’m always going to remember, and it’s pretty fortunate for it to happen.”

Johnson (1) scored first, a little more than halfway through the opening period, breaking a Lightning scoreless streak that had extended more than 85 minutes spanning the last three games.

Tampa Bay extended its lead with goals from Palat (1) and Thompson (6) in the second period that gave them a 3-0 lead.

Mathieu Garon kept things under wraps, making 21 of 22 saves in the game. He only allowed a goal to Eric Staal (13) that snapped his shutout in the third period.

Lightning Keep Season Alive with Win over Hurricanes
Nate Thompson #44 hugs Tyler Johnson #63 following the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-1 victory Saturday night over the Carolina Hurricanes. It has been a rare sight this season to see the Lightning so relaxed and laid-back after a game.
(Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Teddy Purcell (5) added his first goal since February 16 against the Florida Panthers, setting the final margin for the Bolts.

The Bolts will try to build off some real tangible momentum for the first time in weeks on Monday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia is also trying to build some momentum, as they sit in last place in the Atlantic Division.

“It’s every game, there’s no momentum off of that,” Boucher said. “It’s every game is different, it’s a new story. That’s our job to get up for that ‘game of the day,’ period.”

Alright, maybe not. Nonetheless, the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Carolina (15-11-1) will try to rebound Monday night against the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. EST in Madison Square Garden.

Taylor Gaines
Tampa Bay Lightning fan pursuing a career as a journalist at the University of Florida.
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