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Third-period barrage lifts Lightning past Hurricanes

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It seems to be only a matter of time before the Tampa Bay Lightning gets going because the team is going so strong on offense.

The Lightning's high-powered offense kicked into gear with three goals in the first eight minutes of the third period on the way to a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at PNC Arena.

"We've seen a lot of good things," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "I like the way our team is progressing. Half of our team is new."

Marc-Andre Bergeron, Benoit Pouliot, Richard Panik, Tom Pyatt and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning, which moved ahead of Carolina and into first place in the Southeast Division. Panik's first career goal came in his fifth game.

The Lightning has an NHL-leading 66 goals this season.

"We got good chances there," Panik said. "We struggled a little in the second (period) and then we came back in the third. We did it, so that's good for us."

Tampa Bay's Mathieu Garon stopped 32 shots in a matchup of No. 2 goalies. Dan Ellis stopped 34 shots for Carolina, which yielded four third-period goals.

Drayson Bowman and Chad LaRose scored for the Hurricanes, who have their first three-game losing streak of the season.

"We got outworked and that's not acceptable," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "They won all the battles."

The Hurricanes didn't have an answer for Tampa Bay's third-period surge.

"They were making plays and moving the puck pretty good," Bowman said. "We were fighting it quite a bit."

Yet perhaps one of the most telling sequences came much earlier when Bergeron scored. His wrister produced the opening goal midway through the first period. His addition to the lineup on a regular basis has been a plus for the Lightning.

"He's a puck manager," Boucher said. "He's very poised with the puck."

Bergeron's first goal of the season ended his drought that extended to Dec. 29, 2011, when he scored against Montreal.

Pouliot benefited from Vincent Lecavalier's play from behind the net. When Lecavalier worked the puck in front of Ellis, Pouliot was there for the easy conversion to start the third-period scoring.

The Hurricanes struck back 53 seconds later on Bowman's goal with slightly less than 17 minutes to play on a slap shot off Riley Nash's pass.

Panik got that one back for the Lightning when he converted amid congestion in front of the net. He made his NHL debut less than two weeks ago. Pyatt was next, scoring 18 seconds later.

LaRose countered for Carolina with 3:49 to play. Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti assisted for his first NHL point. Then Stamkos' power-play goal clinched it as he scored for the team-leading 12th time this season. He has points in five consecutive games.

"You've got to say it's almost a playoff mentality," Muller said. "It's done with. Get pumped up to play again because like playoff, you have to play again (real soon)."

The Hurricanes, who tried various line combinations to perk up the offense, posted 23 shots on goal through two periods. Late in the period, the Lightning applied heavy pressure, but Ellis was up to the task to keep it a one-goal game.

"We're getting enough scoring chances," Muller said. "We're not capitalizing."

The Hurricanes also lost to Tampa Bay in the home opener last month. That accounted for Garon's only previous victory this season.

NOTES: Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, who missed his third consecutive game because of a concussion, was on the ice with the team for the morning skate. ... Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward wasn't in the net after giving up four goals on 23 shots in Thursday night's 4-3 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets. ... Carolina's defense remains wounded with the absence of injured Tim Gleason (lower body), Joni Pitkanen (lower body) and Jamie McBain (upper body). ... Tampa Bay winger Ryan Malone, who scored a goal in the first meeting with Carolina, sat out his seventh game with a lower-body injury. ... Hurricanes center Jeremy Welsh was in the lineup for the third time this season, replacing right winger Andreas Nodl. ... It was the start of a six-game stretch in a nine-day span for the Hurricanes, who play Sunday at the New York Islanders. ... Saturday night's game was the first in a stretch of six road assignments in a seven-game period for Tampa Bay.
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