Last season goaltender Mathieu Garon rallied the Lightning back into the playoff race before suffering a season ending injury. Without Garon in net the Bolts fell out of contention and were forced to watch the playoffs from home. Tuesday night was Garon’s triumphant return to the ice as the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to face the Carolina Hurricanes. Garon made 35 saves on 36 shots and the only goal that got through was a spectacular backhanded shot by Jeff Skinner, his first goal of the season.
Captain Vincent Lecavalier assisted on that goal and the second goal of the game by rookie Cory Conacher. The diminutive Conacher has at least a point in each of the first three games and five points total. Although the Edmonton Oilers seem to have all the candidates for the Calder Memorial Trophy, Cory Conacher’s play demands the attention of the NHL.
In the second period the Hurricanes scored their only goal of the game, and it came on the power play. Jeff Skinner scored on a beautiful top-shelf backhand goal with the assists going to the Hurricanes’ two biggest offseason acquisitions: Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh and Alexander Semin from Washington. Carolina obtained Staal to play alongside his brother and captain, Eric Staal.
The Bolts put the game away in the third period behind goals from Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone. After three games the Lightning have scored 13 goals, eight of which have come in the third period. Tampa Bay and Carolina each gave up seven penalties and although it did not hurt Tampa Bay in the end the high amount of time spent in the box must be addressed.
Tampa Bay will host the Ottawa Senators on Friday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. In honor of Vincent Lecavalier’s 1,000th career game, all in a Lightning jersey, Reebok is giving away 1,000 free tickets to the game.