NHL Preseason: Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1 (OT)

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RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes fell 2-1 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning in National Hockey League (NHL) preseason play at PNC Arena on Friday.

Jeff Skinner scored for Carolina, matching a goal from Tyler Johnson before Ondrej Palat became the difference-maker scoring the deciding goal at the 1:38 mark of the extra period.

As both teams played through a choppy, and at times sloppy, opening period, it was the Lightning who took an early 1-0 lead on Johnson’s snap shot that beat Hurricanes starting netminder Eddie Lack at the 5:21 mark.

Palat and Nikita Nesterov earned assists on the play.

While both teams had extensive zone possession time throughout the period, the Lightning carried the one-goal advantage into the intermission while being outshot 4-3 by the Hurricanes.

During the second, the line of Elias Lindholm, Tuevo Teravainen, and Sebastian Aho came close to finishing a tic-tac-toe set up, but drifted the shot just wide of Tampa Bay starter Andrei Vasilevskiy’s net.

“They had some great looks,” Brind’Amour said.

“They didn’t score, but with one practice (for Teravainen and Aho), they pick it up quickly. That’s a real positive sign.”

Lack, who finished with 11 saves, came up with a big glove stop on Dominik Masin, and squared up to stop a blast from Gabriel Dumont soon after.

Late in the period, Skinner’s wrist shot was snagged by Vasilevskiy while Jordan Staal’s shot a minute later ricocheted off the Lightning keeper’s trapper and off the right post.

The Hurricanes continued to chase a 1-0 deficit heading into the third period.

“It was a sloppy first two periods from both teams really,” Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

“The neutral zone play was really poor – a lot of turnovers. We never really got a good forecheck going. The third period was a little more exciting.”

With goalkeeper Michael Leighton in net, and outshooting Tampa Bay 16-4, Carolina played its best period structurally in the third.

The Hurricanes finally got the goal they needed when Skinner converted on the power play with 1:05 remaining in regulation.

With Leighton out of the net on a power play due to a double-minor for high sticking to Brayden Point, Vasileveskiy had to contend with a sixth body on the ice in front of him.

While it looked as though he would hold on for the shutout, Skinner roofed a backhand under the crossbar that denied that finish and evened the score 1-1.

“I was just trying to find some open space,” Skinner said.

“The puck bounced to me and I tried to just put it on net. With 6-on-4, it’s usually enough to produce a goal. It’s usually a rebound or the puck squirts out somewhere.”

Carolina remained on the power play to start overtime, but couldn’t beat Vasilevskiy any further.

With both teams back at even strength with three skaters aside, a missed shot opportunity by defenseman Ron Hainsey in the slot allowed Palat to pick up the loose puck along the left boards in his zone and head up ice to face Leighton one-on-one.

After the keeper retreated in anticipation of poking at the puck, the winger quickly accelerated, shifted right, and chipped the puck past him to score the winning goal.

Up to that point, Leighton had made four saves in the game.

It was a tough loss, but one that showed the distance this team still has to travel to be ready for the regular season.

“I think we’re headin’ in the right direction and workin’ out some kinks,” Staal said.

“We needed to think a little less and move our feet a little bit more tonight; but that will come and we’ll keep movin’ forward.”

Notes: Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak finished with four shots on goal while playing alongside Skinner who finished with a game high five shots…At the faceoff dot, Staal won 75% (16-5), Lindholm won 64%(9-5), and Rask won 45%(5-6) of the draws they took…Staal played alongside Phil DiGiuseppe and Brock McGinn, a line combination that finished with six hits and three shots on goal.

Boxscore: Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1 (OT)