TAMPA – Tampa Bay goalie Jonas Johansson dealt his first shutout of the season as the Lightning added a goal in each period to turn back the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-0, in Amalie Arena on Tuesday evening.
The Hurricanes were coming off a tough west coast road trip with a 1-3-1 record in the five games as they fell at Seattle and at Colorado before the matchup in Tampa. Carolina put 32 shots on goal, but Johansson was equal to the task as he put away 13 in the third period.
“They’re a tough team to play against because they work really hard and are always skating,” explained Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “They just played two tough games and are always back and retrieving pucks.”
Johansson has gotten more and more confident with each game in goal as he is starting in place of Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is due back in late November or early December after surgery from a lower back injury.
“Those types of wins when you really need to get one, those feel the best,” said Johansson. “I think it’s good to spread some confidence among your team. Play solid, play well. I think that works for me and that is what I try to do.”
The Lightning played a tougher, tighter defense in front of Johansson on Tuesday evening to record the shutout. This came on the heels of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday when Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in the first period and held it until the Leafs made the late rally.
“When you don’t give up a goal in a game, its more than just the goalie,” said Cooper. “I think it was a team shut out, but he was really really good against Toronto. He just set there and let the pucks hit him.”
Tampa Bay had the advantage in blocked shots, 19-8, and the Lightning outhit the Hurricanes, 9-8.
“Somebody will look down and say they had 32 shots, but I thought we kept everything outside,” said Cooper. “I think it was a more complete game and we got the lead and extended them and held them for 60 minutes.”
The Tampa Bay penalty kill was once again a stellar process as the Lightning special teams killed two in the final 20 minutes.
“On entries, they are doing a pretty good job, so teams are not getting it in clean every single time so that helps,” analyzed Cooper. “So you munch a few seconds off the clock making them go back and it gets a little tiresome for them. So when they take shots, we get those rebounds. When we do have a chance to get it clear, we are getting it clear.”
Point Production: Lightning center Brayden Point opened scoring at 19:06 of the first period when he netted his first goal of the season on the power play.
Point scored on the redirection in the middle off of a Victor Hedman shot. Nick Paul brought the puck left from behind Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov.
He fed Nikita Kucherov who was near the glass on the left side of the circle. Kucherov hit Hedman with a pass as Kucherov had fired and picked up Point’s redirection.
“Who doesn’t like to score?” Questioned Point. “It was nice to see it go in for sure. Look at the chances and the shots against and it’s way too high.”
Cooper noted the importance of known scorers being able to accentuate their games and the positive mindset that brings on offense.
“When you don’t get off to a hot start it can be a little frustrating,” explained Cooper. “You hope that these guys who are used to scoring, they come in bunches after that.”
Alex Barre-Boulet picked up his second goal of the season late in the second period and Nick Paul’s fourth score of the season happened at 17:04 in the third.
“For him to excel he’s got to play with some pretty good players,” Cooper said of Barre-Boulet. “He’s got some gifted offensive talents. You just have to put him in a situation where he can succeed.”
Better Puck Defense: Defensively, the Lightning has given up 255 shots in these seven games although they have built a 3-2-2 start to the new season.
Opponents’ goals average at about 36.4 per night and the penalty kill is even more effective as the only power-play goal for an opponent came on opening night in a 5-3 win over Nashville.
“I think, tonight, there was less sitting back,” Point commented. “Still trying to press and play our game and stay on top of them. In the Toronto game, we sat back and gave them too much time to make plays. Tonight, we just did a good job of just continuing to play.”