RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -Steve Downie scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Monday night.
Ryan Malone and Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Lightning, who snapped an eight-game road losing streak in the series. Tampa Bay hadn't won in the RBC Center since November 2007, a drought that included a pair of losses earlier this season.
Matt Cullen had a goal in the second period for the Hurricanes, and Chad LaRose scored in the third in his first game back from a lower-body injury that had sidelined him for 17 games. Carolina twice answered goals by the Lightning to tie it, but never could push ahead and lost its third straight game.
In a matchup of the bottom two teams in the Southeast Division, Downie put the Lightning ahead for good at 9:11 of the third. Martin St. Louis charged up ice on the right side, then sent a pass back to the left for Downie, who beat Tom Kostopoulos to the puck and sent a shot past Cam Ward.
Antero Niittymaki protected that lead and finished with 20 saves in a relatively stress-free night. It was a far better result than his last outing at Florida, where he allowed five goals on 18 shots before being pulled in the third period.
Tampa Bay got the early lead when Malone - who was jostling with LaRose in front of the crease - corralled a loose rebound off a shot by Kurtis Foster and slipped the puck underneath Ward at 11:07. That lead held until late in the second, when Cullen dug out a loose puck in a crowd near the crease and put it past Niittymaki - who was completely screened behind Mattias Ohlund and Mike Lundin - to tie it at 16:28.
Lecavalier scored on the power play less than 2 minutes later, though the Hurricanes tied it again when LaRose got a step on the defense near the blue line and skated in to beat Niittymaki early in the third.
NOTES: Carolina activated LaRose and reassigned LW Drayson Bowman to Albany of the American Hockey League. ... Carolina LW Sergei Samsonov also returned after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. ... Malone's first-period goal was his first tally since Dec. 26, ending a drought of nine games. ... Ward started for the 16th straight game. ... Jeff Halpern's assist on Lecavalier's second-period goal extended his point streak to four games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved