Alex Nedeljkovic was back in net after Petr Mrazek started Games 3 and 4 for Carolina. Both Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck also returned to the Hurricanes’ lineup.
The game opened with a relatively even first period, which saw the Hurricanes lead in shots by an 11-8 margin. The teams did trade some chances but both goalies were strong through the first frame.
Early in the second period, Vincent Trocheck had an excellent chance to open the scoring, after receiving a pass on a 2-on-1, but Andrei Vasilevskiy made a huge save to keep the game scoreless. Then under a minute after that save, the Lightning would have a rush of their own, where Brayden Point got the puck and was able to outwait Alex Nedeljkovic and score the first goal of the game. Despite Carolina outshooting Tampa Bay in the frame, the Lightning would get most of the quality chances throughout the rest of the period, though the game remained 1-0 Lightning after 40 minutes.
The Hurricanes weren’t nearly as good as they needed to be early in the third period, as Tampa Bay continued to get great chances to extend their lead. Finally about halfway through the period, Ross Colton came in on a rush and beat Nedeljkovic with a nice shot to put the Lightning up 2-0. Carolina didn’t do enough to respond and unfortunately, the game would end with a shutout for Vasilevskiy.
It wasn’t a great performance from the Hurricanes and while the shots signal it being a fairly even game, the Lightning had the better chances by far.
So that ends another season for the Hurricanes. Despite not getting as deep in the playoffs as they would have wanted, Carolina was up against a great team and are still a very young group. There’s a ton to be excited about with this team and I certainly see this year as a big step in the right direction.
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Are you happy with the Hurricanes' season overall?