Hurricanes top Lightning in shootout
The Hurricanes' Finnish connection had a big night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, extending Carolina's domination of its Southeast Division rival.
Tuomo Ruutu scored the goal to clinch the shootout after former Lightning forward Jussi Jokinen scored his team's only goal in regulation as Carolina won 2-1 Tuesday night, extending the Lightning's RBC Center losing streak to seven games.
Sergei Samsonov began the shootout by beating Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith, wrapping the puck around him left to right, before Cam Ward stopped the Lightning's Martin St. Louis. Smith then stopped Jokinen, and after Vincent Lecavalier hit the right post the left-shooting Ruutu beat Smith stick side.
"I wasn't sure what I was going to do but it ended up working out so that was pretty good," Ruutu said. "I just had to shoot somewhere. These games are so tight right now."
The win was Carolina's first in three games this season, while Tampa Bay is 0-1-1.
Jokinen got the regulation goal for Carolina while Ryan Malone scored for Tampa Bay, both on the power play.
The Hurricanes were playing their first game since forward Erik Cole, who is expected to be out 4-6 weeks, suffered a broken leg in Saturday's 7-2 road loss to the Boston Bruins.
Carolina won all six of the teams' meetings last season.
"It's a little mental right now," Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. "It was the second game of the year. It's one of those things where you have to stick with it. You've just got to free your mind. It's you against the goalie, that's all it is. It's tough when you're in a rut."
Jokinen, obtained in a trade with the Lightning in February, gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the season on their first power play at 13:12 of the first, scoring on a rush off Joni Pitkanen's lead pass.
"It's a big win," Jokinen said. "The last two games we didn't play as good as we wanted, and I think we took a big step. We could play better, but wins are what counts and it's a big win. Obviously when you play against your old team there's an extra feeling there. It's nice to get a win and nice to get a goal. It feels good."
Tampa Bay tied it in a 5-on-3 at 6 minutes of the second, as Malone scored on a rebound of Steven Stamkos' shot.
Notes: Defenseman Pitkanen was in the lineup for Carolina for the first time after missing the first two games following his knee surgery of Sept. 10. But he left the game during the second period with a lower body injury and did not return. Carolina's Tim Conboy and Tampa Bay's Zenon Konopka fought in the first period. Lightning forward Andrej Meszaros played in his 300th NHL game, while Smith was playing in his 100th. The teams will meet again in Tampa on Saturday night.