Lightning take 2-0 series lead against Hurricanes with Game 2 victory

Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) and center Steven Stamkos (91) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against th Florida Panthers, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

TAMPA (WFLA/AP) – Andrei Vasilevskiy once again showed why he is one of the best goalies in the NH: on Tuesday night.

Vasilevskiy finished with 31 saves after being named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy presented annually to the league’s top goaltender. That came two days after he made 37 stops in a 2-1 victory in Game 1, including 15 saves in the opening period.

Alex Killorn got the Lightning on the board 7:09 into the second period when he whipped a straightaway shot past Alex Nedeljkovic. The goaltender was shielded by teammate Jaccob Slavin tussling with Anthony Cirelli and didn’t appear to see the puck until it was past him in the net.

Killorn’s goal marked the seventh time in eight playoff games, and sixth in a row, that the Hurricanes have surrendered the game’s first goal. The only exception was a shutout win against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the first-round series.

Cirelli added to Tampa Bay’s lead by taking Victor Hedman’s stretch pass and shaking free from Brady Skjei before converting a backhand to make it 2-0 at 8:06 of the third.

The Lightning didn’t generate much offense otherwise. They finished with just 15 shots, compared to 32 for the Hurricanes.

Still, just as they did in the first round against Florida, the reigning Stanley Cup champions have opened a best-of-seven series with a pair of road wins — this time against the Central Division champions. They host Game 3 on Thursday.

Andrei Svechnikov got Carolina on the board with 1:30 left, taking a feed from Jordan Staal from behind the net and finishing from the top of the crease.

It was a rare time when the Hurricanes successfully managed to create pressure and traffic around Vasilevskiy. That included Martin Necas going wide of the net on a short-handed 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period, with that play ending with Vasilevskiy’s stick out of his hand and spinning on the ice as he flailed at the puck.

Game 3 is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday in Tampa.

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