TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ross Colton scored in his NHL debut and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow also scored, and Alex Killorn had two assists in the third of four straight games between the teams.
Vasilevskiy had his 22nd career shutout and first since March 2020 against Montreal.
“Great effort by our guys,’’ Vasilevskiy said. “For the first two periods I didn’t have much work, it wasn’t until the third when they started to push us. Great job defensively, huge two goals and that was enough to win because we played so good defensively.’’
Alex Nedeljkovic made 25 saves for the Hurricanes after shutting out the Lightning in his previous start. Carolina has lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
The teams will finish the series Thursday night in Tampa. They split the first two games in Raleigh.
“The first game we played, we played the right way,’’ Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “The past couple of games we haven’t had a good start. Against a team of that caliber you have to be able to do it the right way the whole time. We’ve got to get to our game and what makes us successful at the drop of the puck and not wait until it’s too late.”
Colton opened the scoring on his first career shot on goal during his second career shift. As Victor Hedman cut down the right wing side and circled behind the net, Colton whittled his way to the top of the crease where he was able to push the puck under the pads of Nedeljkoviv at 6:43.
“The best way to describe it is I blacked out right after the play,’’ Colton said. “We had a good offensive shift going before that and I just tried to fight to get to the front of the net. Heddy wheeled around there and kind of put it in front, and I was always taught when I was younger to get to the dirty areas, so I just got in front and tried to bang it in and luckily it went in.’’
Colton is the ninth player in franchise history to score in his NHL debut, the second quickest behind only Nikita Kucherov, who scored on his first career shift 2:12 into the game on Henrik Lundqvist against the New York Rangers on November 25, 2013.
Coleman doubled the lead with 2:33 left in the opening period with his first power play goal with Tampa Bay since arriving from New Jersey last season. After Pat Maroon delivered a touch pass to Yanni Gourde at the offensive blue line, Gourde found Coleman alone coming down the slot for an easy one-touch shot over the blocker of Nedeljkovic.
“When you are given a bump in your role, you want to be effective and help your team win whether it’s scoring goals or creating plays on the power play,’’ Coleman said. “So I was happy to get the goal. … The more you play on it, the more comfortable you get and are able to make plays and if I’m given any opportunities in the game I want to make the most of it.’’
Goodrow added an empty-netter with 34.8 seconds left.
“I think our starts have been what’s killing us,’’ Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “It’s hard to come back in this league, especially against one of the best. We started getting chances in the second and third, creating some plays…but it’s too little too late sometimes. We have to have a better start and be ready on time.”
Lightning C Anthony Cirelli, who suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury on Feb. 11 at Florida, skated with the extras Wednesday morning. Coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning hope to be able to consider Cirelli day-to-day soon.
Carolina F Teuvo Teravainen was diagnosed with a concussion, according to coach Rod Brind’Amour, and did not accompany the team for the five-game trip. Brind’Amour also said G Petr Mrazek, out with a fractured thumb, remains out indefinitely even though he returned to the ice Tuesday.