RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Barclay Goodrow beat Alex Nedeljkovic for the go-ahead goal at 12:39 of the third period to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Sunday night to open their second-round playoff series.
Goodrow put the reigning Stanley Cup champions ahead for good when he headed left against Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei, then shot from a sharp angle on the left side. The puck skid underneath Nedeljkovic's right pad as it lifted slightly off the ice near the post to break a 1-1 tie.
That lead held, with the Lightning holding off Carolina's final minute with the empty net and extra attacker in a desperate tying attempt.
Instead, the Lightning won a road series opener for the second straight round. The Lightning swept the first two games at Florida in that six-game first-round series.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night.
Brayden Point added a second-period goal on the power play for Tampa Bay, while Andrei Vasilevskiy was sharp all day with 37 saves — including 15 in the first period against the Hurricanes buzzing out of the gate backed by a rowdy home crowd of more than 16,000.
Jake Bean scored on the power play to tie it early in the third period for Carolina, notching his first career playoff assist. The Hurricanes, who have home-ice advantage after winning the Central Division, also got another solid performance from Nedeljkovic with 28 saves.
Tampa Bay didn't have defenseman David Savard for this one due to an upper-body injury. Then the Lightning saw fellow blue-liner Erik Cernak go down when he got sandwiched between Carolina's Andrei Svechnikov and Victor Trocheck in a collision near the boards at 18:15 of the second.
Cernak eventually got up and skated slowly to the tunnel, leaving the Lightning with five defensemen.
Carolina winger Nino Niederreiter sat out with an upper-body injury after leaving Saturday's practice early. And that opened a space for Cedric Paquette to make his playoff debut for Carolina — and against his former Lightning teammates after spending 2014-20 with the franchise.
The NHL had approved an increased attendance for PNC Arena with the installation of a 500-ton chiller to increase air flow while ensuring integrity of the ice despite the rising temperatures outside.
Carolina had about 5,000 fans to close the regular season, then upped that to about 12,000 for the Nashville series after the state eased public-gathering and physical distancing restrictions. The official figure for Games 1 and 2 of this series is 16,299, roughly 87% of the building's normal 18,680-fan capacity.
David Ayres — the Zamboni driver and kidney-transplant recipient who memorably won a 2020 game in Toronto for the Hurricanes as the emergency goaltender — sounded the storm-warning siren for the Hurricanes to take the ice for the third period.
Hurricanes TV color announcer Tripp Tracy along with North Carolina State women's tennis players Jaeda Daniel and Alana Smith — who helped the Wolfpack reach the national semifinals — sounded the pregame and first-intermission sirens.
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Aaron Beard, The Associated Press