TAMPA — Lightning coach John Tortorella didn't have to be baited or prompted.
Asked after Saturday night's 2-1 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum how his team handled a pressure-packed third period in which it killed three penalties, Tortorella said of the Hurricanes:
"I've never seen a team (fall) down so much in my life. They lead the league in power plays for some reason, and I got a pretty good idea what it is. It gets to be pretty embarrassing. It's wrong."
The last, called on Filip Kuba for tripping Eric Staal with 2:10 left, included 1:05 of six-on-four and 10 seconds of five-on-four as Carolina pulled goalie Cam Ward.
"I thought our penalty killers did a great job killing those penalties," Tortorella said.
Tampa Bay (31-38-9) killed 7 of 7, has killed 13 straight and 52 of 58 in its past 15 games. More than that, though, the Lightning, 12-20 in one-goal games, did not wilt in the third as it has so many times before.
Tampa Bay was outshot 12-3 in the period and 39-21 by the Southeast leaders. But the Lightning showed poise, battled and kept many shots to the outside.
Goalie Karri Ramo was outstanding with a career-high 38 saves and made stand up Jeff Halpern's 19th goal that snapped a 1-1 tie 5:43 into the third period.
Ramo got his first career assist on Jussi Jokinen's power-play, breakaway goal that tied it 18 seconds into the second and included Dan Boyle's pass that hit his teammate in stride as he split the Hurricanes defense.
And he leapt high with 0.7 seconds left in the third period to glove Joe Corvo's shot that deflected into a floater.
Ramo said he played some baseball in his native Sweden.
"It's a different game," he said, "but the same idea."
Ramo's idea is to show Tortorella he belongs in the NHL. The coach recently said he believes Ramo would benefit by starting next season in the AHL. But he told the 21-year-old rookie things can change.
"When camp starts, it's still on merit," Tortorella said. "I'm not going to be stubborn about & where he ends up, but he has to earn it."
"Torts is the kind of guy who says the guy who deserves it plays," Ramo said. "I have to make their decisions difficult."
He made it difficult on the Hurricanes, who have a league-high 401 power-play chances and were 5-of-11 Friday against the Thrashers in a 7-1 win.
"Their goaltender made some big saves," Staal said, "and they did a good job keeping us out of the front of the net and clearing away rebounds."
No wonder Tampa Bay was the last team standing.
First Period—1, Carolina, LaRose 8 (Letowski, Ruutu), 17:24. Penalties—St. Louis, TB (tripping), 3:13; J.Ward, TB (hooking), 6:21; Bayda, Car (hooking), 8:54; LaRose, Car (elbowing), 19:38.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Jokinen 16 (Boyle, Ramo), :18 (pp). Penalties—Ruutu, Car (high-sticking), 2:27; Bayda, Car (goalie interference), 3:57; Ouellet, TB (slashing), 4:38; Lecavalier, TB (tripping), 12:26; Staal, Car (hooking), 17:23.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Halpern 19 (Jokinen, Picard), 5:43. Penalties—Walker, Car (slashing), 1:35; Ouellet, TB (delay of game), 9:22; Lukowich, TB (roughing), 11:50; Kuba, TB (tripping), 17:50. Shots on Goal—Carolina 13-14-12—39. Tampa Bay 10-8-3—21. Power-play opportunities—Carolina 0 of 7; Tampa Bay 1 of 6. Goalies—Carolina, C.Ward 36-23-5 (21 shots-19 saves). Tampa Bay, Ramo 7-10-3 (39-38). A—19,311 (19,758).