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Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. - The Carolina Hurricanes avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, knocking off Tampa Bay 3-2 on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Jiri Tlusty had two goals and an assist while Alex Semin had a goal and two assists in support of goaltender Dan Ellis, who finished with 34 saves.

Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists to pull within one point of the league scoring lead, while Steven Stamkos also scored for Tampa Bay. Goalie Anders Lindback, in his first game since March 20, finished with 25 saves.

The Hurricanes, who have been dominated by the Lightning in the previous four meetings this season, dropping all four by a combined 18-4 score, were determined not to let that happen again. That mission was accomplished with a three-goal outburst in the first period, spurred on by Semin's goal 16 seconds into the game. He took a feed from Eric Staal - who stole the puck behind the net - to give Carolina a quick lead.

Tlusty then notched his first of the game when his intended pass across the ice deflected off the skate of Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman and past Lindback at 10:45. Tlusty then made it 3-0 late in the period when he took advantage of a poor play by Ryan Malone in his own crease. Tlusty was able to knock Malone's stick, which pushed the puck into the net with 1:14 left in the first.

As has been the trend for Lightning, however, they fall behind and try to mount a comeback. Sunday marked the sixth consecutive game in which Tampa Bay has fallen behind by at least two goals at some point in the game. In four of those games, the Lightning either tied the game or pulled to within a goal.

That was the case once again as a power play goal by Stamkos - his 28th goal of the season - at 10:07 of the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1. Then, in the opening minutes of the third period, Vinny Lecavalier won a clean faceoff to make a nifty pass over to St. Louis, who lifted a backhander past Ellis 2:16 into the third to pull the Lightning to within a goal.

NOTES: Carolina wore its alternate black jerseys after receiving permission to wear the third jerseys. Tampa Bay wore its road white uniforms. ... The goal allowed by Tampa Bay 16 seconds into the game is tied for the third fastest allowed at home, done by Sergei Zholtok for Edmonton on March 13, 2001. The fastest was scored by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, seven seconds into a game on Jan. 5, 2011, in Pittsburgh. ... Tlusty increased his scoring streak to five consecutive games with his first-period goal. ... Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo recorded his 300th career point. ... Lindback returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on March 20. ... Lecavalier celebrated his 33rd birthday.
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