Raleigh, NC, United States (4E Sports) – Rookie defenseman Mark Barberio netted his first two NHL goals to carry the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday at PNC Arena.
Fellow neophyte Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists while Nikita Kucherov and Teddy Purcell also scored as the Lightning (29-16-5) moved into a first-place tie with the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division.
Goalie Ben Bishop turned back 47 shots to improve his record to 24-6-4 for the Lightning, who took a share of the top spot after the Bruins lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout earlier Sunday.
Eric Staal and Alexander Semin scored while starting netminder Justin Peters stopped four of seven shots before he was replaced by Anton Khudobin, who recorded 15 saves for the Hurricanes (20-19-9).
After being outshot 8-1 early in the first period, the Lightning connected for a power-play goal to start the scoring at 6:09. Barberio scored the first goal of his NHL career at the edge of the crease, taking a backhand pass from Alex Killorn.
Tampa Bay made it 2-0 1:23 later on Palat’s 10th of the season, a one-timer from the slot after a Martin St. Louis pass from the left wing.
Kucherov buried a close-range shot to Peters’ glove side to push the lead to 3-0 at 15:07 after Carolina’s defensive coverage broke down.
That spelled the end of the evening for Peters, who made his first appearance since Dec. 28.
The Lightning needed 24 seconds at the start of the second period to extend the lead. Tyler Johnson fed Purcell in front on a delayed penalty for his 10th of the season.
However, the Hurricanes battled back with two goals in less than four minutes. On the power play, Semin finished a beautiful end-to-end rush with a shot inside the far post at 1:46.
Staal made another strong individual play to make it 4-2, stealing the puck from Jean-Philippe Cote in the neutral zone before firing a shot between the legs of Bishop.
Barberio scored his second goal at 8:12 after hard-working shift by the Lightning. His slap shot from the high slot deflected off Sekera.
Carolina defenseman Ron Hainsey cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3 at 6:14 of the third period when he pinched from the left point to follow the rebound of a John-Michael Liles shot.