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Tampa Bay Lightning beats Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in season opener

RALEIGH, N.C. — Teams do not generally throw down the gauntlet to each other before a game, but the Hurricanes did it to the Lightning.

Tampa Bay ended Carolina's 2010-11 playoff hopes, and coach Paul Maurice flat out said, "Payback is due."

It's a nice sentiment, but it fell flat as the Lightning scored a satisfying 5-1 victory in the season opener for both teams Friday night at the RBC Center.

"We weren't worried about last year," center Steven Stamkos said. "If they wanted to talk about that, that's great. This is a brand new season. This year is about us."

"A great win," captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "We believe in what we can do."

What the Lightning did was wrestle a game away from a team that in the first period had Tampa Bay on its heels. Carolina had a 16-12 shot advantage, 14-3 in the final 12:26 when the Lightning stopped skating.

Thanks to goalie Dwayne Roloson, the deficit was only 1-0. And after a semiharsh between-periods reminder from the coaches to, as Stamkos said, "utilize our speed and smarts," momentum shifted.

Marty St. Louis and Lecavalier scored in the second period. Steve Downie and Adam Hall scored within 10 seconds in the third, tying a team mark for the second-fastest goals. Ryan Malone scored, Stamkos had two assists, and Roloson made it stand up with 32 saves.

It was quite a progression for the Lightning, which Thursday got a tongue lashing from coach Guy Boucher for a lax practice. Then came Friday's first period, and then the resurgence.

"We needed a real NHL game for our guys to decide to play at their top," Boucher said. "I can understand it. It's not something you want as a coach because it's all about habits."

Good habits were on special teams. The Lightning scored twice on the power play, including Lecavalier's baseball-swing tally off a rebound on a five-on-three with 2:10 left in the second to make the score 2-1.

Tampa Bay killed off all five Carolina power plays and allowed just three shots.

Some bad habits: loose defensive zone coverages and awkward positional play on defense, especially from Matt Gilroy, who was burned on Carolina's goal.

"Not a perfect night," Boucher said, "but a pretty good night.

Especially considering how much the game meant to the Hurricanes. "It's a lot more fun on the losing side," Boucher said, noting the light turnout at his postgame meeting with reporters. "More emotion, right?"

Lightning 0 2 3 5
Hurricanes 1 0 0 1
Lightning 0 2 3 5
Hurricanes 1 0 0 1

First Period1, Carolina, Skinner 1 (Gleason, Ruutu), 8:07. PenaltiesAllen, Car (interference), 16:17; St. Louis, TB (goaltender interference), 17:10; Stamkos, TB (boarding), 19:58.

Second Period2, TB, St. Louis 1 (Stamkos), 5:19. 3, TB, Lecavalier 1 (Stamkos, St. Louis), 17:50 (pp). PenaltiesAllen, Car (roughing), 6:07; Lecavalier, TB (hooking), 6:37; Connolly, TB (hooking), 8:54; Faulk, Car (holding), 10:21; Jokinen, Car (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:31; Faulk, Car (interference), 17:31.

Third Period4, TB, Downie 1 (Bergeron, Shannon), 12:22 (pp). 5, TB, Hall 1 (Thompson, Jones), 12:32. 6, TB, Malone 1 (Purcell, Brewer), 16:58. PenaltiesMalone, TB (interference), 7:36; E.Staal, Car (interference), 10:29. Shots on GoalTB 12-10-12—34. Carolina 16-8-9—33. Power-play opportunitiesTB 2 of 6; Carolina 0 of 5. GoaliesTB, Roloson 1-0-0 (33 shots-32 saves). Carolina, Ward 0-1-0 (34-29).

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in season opener 10/07/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:04am]
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