Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Steven Stamkos' hat trick lifts Tampa Bay Lightning past Carolina Hurricanes 5-2

TAMPA — The Lightning began Saturday honoring a big part of its past, unveiling a statue of founder Phil Esposito outside of the newly renamed Tampa Bay Times Forum.

And star center Steven Stamkos ended the calendar year by coming oh-so-close to accomplishing something that hasn't been done since the franchise's first game.

Stamkos racked up a hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes in front of a New Year's Eve crowd of 19,204. He had a chance to join Chris Kontos (Oct. 7, 1992) as the only Lightning players to score four goals in a game, but Carolina goalie Cam Ward stopped a late breakaway.

"That was icing on the cake," Stamkos said. "I think I'm still trying to get over how I missed that breakaway. I'm sure I'll be able to get over that tonight."

Stamkos has 10 goals over his past eight games and a league-leading 26 on the season.

"He's pretty hot," Marty St. Louis said. "He's flying."

So is the Lightning (17-17-3), which is at .500 for the first time since Nov. 30 after sweeping a three-game homestand. It capped it with "that 60-minute, consistent, relentless effort on both sides of the ice that we were waiting for," coach Guy Bou­cher said.

Tampa Bay set the tone with one of its better first periods in recent memory. However, the Hurricanes, who entered with the third-worst power play in the league, scored two with the man advantage to take a 2-1 lead.

Stamkos brought the Lightning back with back-to-back goals, a highlight-reel one in the second in which he split two Hurricanes then a familiar one in the third, a one-timer from the left circle on a power play. Stamkos' third was extra special as St. Louis picked up his 500th career assist.

"He'll remember that forever," Stamkos said. "And I'll remember that forever."

Teddy Purcell scored 22 seconds later, and Steve Downie added another insurance goal. It seemed like everything — and every line — clicked for Tampa Bay, including Mathieu Garon making 24 saves in winning his third consecutive start.

The defense, without Victor Hedman (concussion), came through with Boucher saying, "We can't ask for more."

Boucher said he could see a complete effort building. And the Lightning needed it, entering Saturday six points out of the final playoff spot.

"We need to make a push," Downie said. "We can't wait until after the All-Star break. We have to make a push now. These points are crucial."

Lightning 1 1 3 5
Hurricanes 1 1 0 2

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 24 (St. Louis, Downie), 3:22. 2, Carolina, Faulk 2 (Bowman, E.Staal), 16:12 (pp). PenaltiesPurcell, TB (hooking), 16:00.

Second Period3, Carolina, Harrison 3 (E.Staal, McBain), 4:29 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 25 (St. Louis, Downie), 8:17. PenaltiesClark, TB (tripping), 1:09; St. Louis, TB (holding), 3:08; Jokinen, Car (slashing), 9:04; LaRose, Car (hooking), 19:57.

Third Period5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 26 (St. Louis, Malone), :43 (pp). 6, Tampa Bay, Purcell 7 (Malone, Clark), 1:05. 7, Tampa Bay, Downie 6 (Malone, Pyatt), 6:51. PenaltiesBrent, Car (roughing), 7:52; Ward, Car, served by Nodl (roughing), 7:52; Lecavalier, TB (roughing), 7:52; Moore, TB (goaltender interference), 7:52; Stamkos, TB (hooking), 8:31; Ponikarovsky, Car (boarding), 14:18. Shots on GoalCarolina 7-11-8—26. Tampa Bay 13-10-9—32. Power-play opportunitiesCarolina 2 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 3. GoaliesCarolina, Ward 13-15-5 (32 shots-27 saves). Tampa Bay, Garon 11-9-2 (26-24). A19,204 (19,204).

Lightning 5

Hurricanes 2

Steven Stamkos' hat trick lifts Tampa Bay Lightning past Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.