TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been playing like the defending Stanley Cup champions. A team meeting resulted in a step back in that direction.
“I think we made a conscious effort in the meeting we had today that we weren’t going to get discouraged and we weren’t going to get frustrated,” Hurricanes left wing Ray Whitney said. “I think our overall mentality toward the game was better. At times I think we felt like it was our right to win, whether we deserved it or not. I think from the meeting we had this morning, we were made well aware that that’s not the way it’s going to be anymore.”
Staal scored with 7:02 remaining in the game on a rebound after Erik Cole’s shot hit the post. Whitney had two goals, including one on a breakaway to make it 3-1 with 1:24 remaining.
“It’s a starting point,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s one win after a tough stretch. “
“That’s the worst thing that we can do right now is be down,” Lightning coach John Tortorella said. “We have to stay with it. Stay within our team concept. Try and stay positive. We’ve got to stay strong in that area.”
St. Louis’ power-play goal in the final minute pulled Tampa Bay within 3-2. He has four goals and 11 points in his last five games.
Ward turned aside Vincent Lecavalier’s low slot backhander during the second. He also made a diving glove save on Lecavalier with 8 minutes left in the third.
“It’s a huge relief,” Ward said. “This is a very important game for us, especially being a divisional opponent and knowing that Tampa Bay was going to be hungry for a win because they’ve been kind of going through the same thing.”
Lecavalier’s eight-game point streak came to an end. He had eight goals and 15 points during the stretch.
Craig put the Lightning ahead 1-0 from in close at 7:49 of the second. Whitney’s power-play goal tied it 1-1 with 6:55 left in the period.
Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis got some help 90 seconds into the third. After Justin Williams hit the post, Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba cleared the puck out of the crease before Whitney could get a rebound chance. The goalie stopped Cole during a 2-on-1 about 3 minutes into the game and made a save on Whitney’s in-close chance late in the second.
Denis finished with 24 saves. He has lost nine of his last 10 decisions.
Tampa Bay LW Ruslan Fedotenko was out of the lineup due to a coaches’ decision. He has two goals over his last 17 games. … Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour (lower body injury) missed his fourth straight game. … Tampa Bay C Brad Richards’ four-game goal-scoring streak ended.