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Lightning tops Hurricanes (w/ video)

TAMPA — A new year. Time to turn the page on the old, except if you are the Lightning, which kind of liked how the old year came to an end.

Sure, it could do without the injuries. On Saturday, Brian Boyle was the latest Lightning player to leave a game and not return.

But the Lightning continued gathering points during this five-game homestand, earning two more with a 3-1 win against the Hurricanes.

That's five of a possible six points earned in three games last week at Amalie Arena and nine of a possible 12 in the Lightning's past six games.

Might the team finally be turning the corner?

"I hope so," wing Alex Killorn said.

It was Killorn's backhander in the second period off a pass from Matthew Peca that produced that magic third goal for the Lightning (19-15-4), which is 18-3-1 this season when scoring at least three times. Peca's assist was his first NHL point.

The Lightning managed two feats in the game. It scored first, something it hasn't done much this season. And it scored twice against Carolina's penalty kill, which entered the day ranked No. 1 in the league.

Boyle and Jonathan Drouin had the power-play goals in the first period, making the Lightning the only team to score twice in one game against the Hurricanes' penalty kill.

"When you start off with a couple of quick penalties that become power-play goals, it's not easy to come back," Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said. "We played pretty good 5-on-5. The penalty kill has been pretty good for us this year, but (Saturday) it wasn't."

It was the first time during the first three games of the homestand that the Lightning scored first. It rallied from two-goal deficits in each of the first two games, getting a win and a loss, both in overtime.

"That was a strong point of contention in the locker room before the game," coach Jon Cooper said.

Boyle's goal off a rebound on a shot by Nikita Kucherov came at 7:35.

"I think that's something we were focused in on," Killorn said. "Our starts, they weren't good enough. (The Hurricanes) have a great PK, and for us to get two goals was a huge momentum boost for our team. I think we could be better throughout the full game. I think our starts is something that's been missing, and I think (Saturday) we did a good job having a great start."

Cooper said the Lightning let up after it took a 3-0 lead on Killorn's goal, which allowed Carolina, playing the second of back-to-back games, to get back in it. Wing Sebastian Aho scored 1:58 after Killorn.

The one down note was Boyle's lower-body injured that forced him out of the game late in the second period. With the Lightning off for two days, Boyle might return Tuesday against the Jets.

Cooper said his daily conversations with general manager Steve Yzerman are about who is hurt and who is coming up from AHL Syracuse.

"Hopefully in '17 we can talk about the game," Cooper said, "and not who's injured and who has to come up."

Up next

vs. Jets, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday,

Amalie Arena TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 970-AM

Lightning tops Hurricanes (w/ video) 12/31/16 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2016 11:49pm]
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