Defending Champs Lightning advance with shutout of Hurricanes

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy closed another playoff series with a shutout, making 29 saves and blanking the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in Game 5 of their second-round matchup on Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C.

Brayden Point and Ross Colton scored for the Lightning, who won the final two games of the best-of-seven series.

“You’re trying to close a team out, they played fantastic,” Point said. “I think that game could have gone either way. We were lucky to get that one.”

Lightning advance; wait for either Islanders or Bruins

The defending champions have reached the Stanley Cup semifinals, winning eight of their 11 postseason games this year.

The Lightning’s next opponent will be either the New York Islanders or the Boston Bruins. The Islanders lead their best-of-seven, second-round series 3-2.

Tampa Bay won its first-round series against the Florida Panthers with Vasilevskiy delivering a shutout in the Game 6 clincher.

lightning advance
Jun 8, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) stops Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) shot in game five of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who hadn’t played in the previous two games, stopped 23 shots Tuesday.

Carolina, the top team in the Central Division during the regular season, was 0-for-3 on power plays.

Point sent the puck into the net with a backhand shot on a second-period power play. Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn picked up assists on the goal.

It was Point’s team-leading eighth goal of this postseason. He scored in four games in the series with Carolina.

Tampa Bay nearly went up 2-0 at the end of the second period. Steven Stamkos appeared to score, but it was ruled to come after the buzzer.

Hurricanes will try and learn from this

Nedeljkovic came up big a couple of times early in the third period, including a stop of Point’s shot, to keep the margin at one goal.

Then Colton collected a turnover in the neutral zone and skated in for a goal-producing shot with 10:56 remaining in the third period. The Lightning had 10 of the first 14 shots on goal in the third period.

It was a contrast from earlier, when the Lightning didn’t have a shot on goal in the last eight minutes of the first period.

The Hurricanes had forwards Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck back in the lineup after they missed recent games with injuries. It was Niederreiter’s first appearance of the series.

Carolina finished the postseason with a 3-3 home record, losing all three outings to the Lightning after arena capacity was increased to more than 16,000 when pandemic-related restrictions were adjusted.

“Right now, the No. 1 takeaway is we have to get a little better,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Our talent is close, but we got beat in the talent area. In the big areas — the power plays, PKs — that’s the areas where we have to get better. … We were good all year, but when you get up against the best, that’s a great comparison, right? To see, ‘OK, well, that’s how it’s done.'”

–Field Level Media