RALEIGH, N.C. — The Tampa Bay Lightning needed a jump start to get going on Friday, and Steven Stamkos provided the boost.
Stamkos picked up his 10th goal of the season among his season-high nine shots on goal as Tampa Bay picked up a 3-0 win against Carolina in front of an announced crowd of 14,828 at PNC Arena. Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn also scored for the Lightning, who improved to 9-4 on the season. Ben Bishop stopped 31 shots for his fourth career shutout and second against Carolina. Bishop has stopped 76 consecutive shots against Carolina at PNC Arena after he made his Lightning debut with a 45-save shutout last season, and Tampa Bay has won five consecutive games at Carolina and eight of the past nine.
Justin Peters, the No. 3 goaltender on the Hurricanes’ depth chart, made several big saves among his 29 stops.
“It was a big win for our team,’’ Bishop said. “We had a lot of chances throughout the game, their goalie played really well, keeping them in it, and I knew if we keep getting those chances one of them was going to go in.’’
The chances were not coming early, however, and this came after the team spent two days harping on getting shots on net after Tuesday’s loss in New Jersey. In the first period, Tampa Bay registered just three shots on goal, the third time in a span of four periods that the Lightning had fewer than five shots on goal.
“We had a long, heartfelt talk between the first and the second period about getting pucks on net,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And it wasn’t just a one-sided conversation in the room, we just had to have a little discussion on why we aren’t getting pucks to the net.’’
The Lightning’s first shot of the game came 7:12 into the first period, but Tampa Bay did not get its second shot until there was 2:09 left in the period, a span of 10:39 between shots.
It took a little while into the second period to get things rolling, but the spark came courtesy of a Stamkos breakaway, which was stopped by Peters at 7:18. Then luck stepped in on the opening goal, as Hedman sent a puck from the left point intentionally wide looking for some sort of a carom. What he got was a puck that found the outside of the near post then hit Peters’ stick before it was pushed into the net by Peters’ pad as he tried to locate the puck at 9:54. The play was not a registered shot on goal until it went in the net.
“That’s not the result you are looking for when you do that, but we’ll take it,’’ Hedman said. “That was a big goal for us, and I think it gave us a spark.’’
The momentum gained more fuel during a power play just after the goal when Tampa Bay had the puck in the Carolina zone for the full two minutes and generated six shots. Though none got past Peters, who had a terrific end to the period after the fluke goal got by him.
Stamkos was stoned on three occasions in the third to go along with his breakaway chance earlier in the period.
It wasn’t until midway through the third that Stamkos finally broke through, sitting on the left post to find an open net in front of him as Alex Killorn’s backhand shot went off Peters right to Stamkos for a 2-0 lead at 11:38.
“I think I’ve learned through my career you can’t be frustrated, and I was actually joking with the guys on the bench, that was fun,’’ Stamkos said of his numerous scoring chances. “When you are getting that many chances, you know you are doing something right, and I felt great tonight. I think our whole team responded well after the first period. And when you keep at it, you get rewarded.’’
Killorn finished the scoring, completing a passing play with Marty St. Louis — who finished with two assists — for the insurance goal with 2:46 left.
“Guys were missing the net, and I thought we just had chance after chance, but they stayed with it, and that was the difference, I thought,’’ Cooper said. “The message was, if you keep getting these chances you are going to get more, and they did, and finally in the end they capitalized.’’