The Tampa Bay Lightning opened the regular season the same way they ended the last one — by routing the Carolina Hurricanes on their home ice.
Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning past Carolina, 5-1 on Friday night.
Vincent Lecavalier scored the go-ahead goal on a power play late in the second period, before Steve Downie, Adam Hall and Ryan Malone scored during a 4:36 span in the third.
”They came out and said they wanted some revenge,” said Steven Stamkos, who had two assists. ”Maybe a little extra motivation for us. But at the end of the day, it’s a brand new season.”
Dwayne Roloson stopped 32 shots for Tampa Bay, which took the lead during a 5-on-3 situation in the final minutes of the second.
Jeff Skinner scored and Cam Ward made 29 saves for the Hurricanes.
The game turned on simultaneous penalties against Carolina. Justin Faulk, a 19-year-old defenseman making his NHL debut, was whistled for interference with 2:29 left when Jussi Jokinen backhanded the puck in apparent frustration toward an official — earning him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
”I said something to the referee,” Jokinen said. ”It’s my fault. I have to keep my mouth shut. . . . The referees do their job, and I need to do my job.”
That gave the Lightning a full 2 minutes with the two-man advantage. They only needed 19 seconds to take the lead, with Lecavalier batting an airborne puck past Ward.
”Honestly, we got some fortunate bounces with the 5-on-3, and we took care of it,” St. Louis said.
That goal came roughly 12 minutes after St. Louis tied it. After he took the puck from Skinner near center ice, he made his way near the right post, took a pretty feed from Stamkos and stuffed the puck past Ward.
Downie stretched the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal with 7:38 left, Hall made it a three-goal game 10 seconds later and Malone polished off the rout with a goal with 3:02 remaining.
This certainly wasn’t how the Hurricanes wanted to start the season. They were looking forward to this one for several reasons – not only to get a new season started, but to try to exact some revenge for the way the last one ended.
Carolina entered the finale last April needing only to beat the Lightning on home ice to clinch just their second playoff spot since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Instead, Tampa Bay routed the Hurricanes 6-2 to start a postseason roll that carried the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final.
”No sense of satisfaction there whatsoever,” Roloson said. ”It’s all about focusing on what we’ve got to do to win hockey games. Last year’s last year, and this year’s this year. We focus on the now.”
They kept the nucleus of that team intact, a big reason why they enter this season as a top contender in the Southeast Division.
And Skinner, who won the Calder Trophy last season as the rookie of the year, also picked up where he left off, starting and finishing the sequence that put Carolina up 1-0. His takeaway near center ice led to a series of attempts against Roloson, with Skinner scooping up the rebound of Tim Gleason’s blast and flinging it high over the Lightning goalie’s stick at 11:53.
”I liked our first period. We played pretty good then, but then one mistake there, a couple of penalties and they got the lead,” Jokinen said. ”Lots of things we need to do better.”
NOTES: The Hurricanes have lost five of six conventional home openers, with the only win coming in 2008. They beat Minnesota in their first game as a home team last year, but that was played in Finland. … Carolina D Ryan Murphy, an 18-year-old who was their first-round draft pick in June, was a healthy scratch. … Tampa Bay went 4-2 against Carolina last year and has won consecutive openers. … Lightning D Brett Clark skated in his 600th career game. … Before the game, the Hurricanes held a moment of silence to honor popular former player Josef Vasicek, a member of the `06 Stanley Cup team who was among the 44 killed in the plane crash last month that decimated Russian club Lokomotiv.