The Lightning have struck twice.
Much like in the First Round against the Panthers, the Lightning took a 2-0 series lead on opposing ice. This time, against the top-seeded divisional foe Hurricanes, with a 2-1, tight win in Game 2.
Thus far, the high-powered Hurricanes have been unable to solve Vezina Trophy favorite Andrei Vesilevskiy in the opposing net. He finished with 31 saves on the day he was nominated for this year’s award.
Andrei Svechnikov scored the lone Hurricanes goal with 1:30 left, right after they had pulled their goalie. He took a slick pass from captain Jordan Staal behind the net and beat Vasilevskiy, but it was far too late.
Carolina vastly outshot the Lightning, 32-15, including a 13-4 second frame. It wasn’t enough; the Lightning just took advantage of the opportunities they did get on Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. The Lightning didn’t get any more than six shots in a single period, which came in the first.
First, Alex Killorn gave the Bolts a lead 7:09 into the second, shooting a wrister off his back foot that snuck past Nedeljkovic.
Much like in the second, the Lightning struck quickly in the third. This time, it was Anthony Cirelli who notched his third goal of the postseason on a backhanded beauty. Defenseman Victor Hedman made a terrific stretch pass to connect with the forward in front of the net.
THE BACKHAND SCORE.
Anthony Cirelli doubles the lead for the @TBLightning. #StanleyCup // NBCSN pic.twitter.com/ixDYvj1EEJ
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 2, 2021
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]
Before Cirelli extended the lead, Martin Necas had a strong shorthanded chance for the Hurricanes but couldn’t capitalize. The Hurricanes, despite outshooting the Lightning the entire contest, didn’t get many better opportunities than that.
Once again, the Hurricanes had plenty of fight in the face of adversity, and they fall by the same final score as in Game 1. This time, perhaps the score was closer than the game really was, with the last minute goal. But, they competed the entire contest, in typical Hurricanes fashion. That’s how dangerous the Lightning are; an excellent team like the Hurricanes can play pretty well, battle to the end, and the Lightning still come out of Raleigh with a 2-0 lead without playing their best hockey.
After Svechnikov made it a one-goal contest, the Hurricanes kept it in their offensive zone the rest of the contest, challenging the Lightning defense and forcing a faceoff with eight seconds left. Svechnikov had another chance denied by Vasilevskiy before time expired on another Lightning win.
Carolina never trailed in the First Round. Nashville had come back to make it a 2-2 series with its two wins on home ice, but the Hurricanes didn’t lost at home at all. Now, they face the same predicament the Panthers did; trailing by two, and going to the home of the Stanley Cup champions.
The Hurricanes aren’t the Panthers, but the Lightning are the same team that’s handled two of the teams projected to go deep into the postseason. Now, the Hurricanes face the uphill climb, needing to win at least once in Tampa Bay.
LIGHTNING VS. HURRICANES (TB leads 2-0) – series livestream link
Game 1: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
Game 2: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
Game 3: Thurs. June 3: Hurricanes at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Game 4: Sat. June 5: Hurricanes at Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (USA Network)
*Game 5: Tues. June 8: Lightning at Hurricanes TBD
*Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Hurricanes at Lightning TBD
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Lightning at Hurricanes
Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.