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Williams hat trick leads Canes to third straight win

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Justin Williams didn't score a goal in his
first six games this season. He made up for it big time in the
seventh.

Williams had three goals and an assist, and Cam Ward made 34
saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning
5-1 Monday night.

"It's nice to get off the goose egg," Williams said.
"Sometimes they find a way of going in. I had a lot of scoring
opportunities tonight and sometimes that's the way the puck goes."

Williams scored twice during a three-goal second period that put
Carolina up 4-0. He made it 2-0 with a rebound goal at 3:11 and
scored on a power play with 2:39 left. The right wing completed his
first career hat trick with a rebound power-play goal from the low
left circle 37 seconds into the third.

Ward stopped Martin St. Louis on two breakaways in the first. He
also made second-period saves on in-close shots by St. Louis and
Brad Richards.

"The win is all that matters," said Ward, who lost the bid for
his first career shutout late in the third.

Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Belanger also scored for Carolina. The
defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes have won three straight
after starting the season 0-3-1.

"We needed Cam on more than one occasion to bail us out,"
Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've seen Cam really
focused before and really sharp. That was one of the sharpest
performances I've seen from him."

Nikita Alexeev scored for the Lightning with 2:13 left in the
third. Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis was pulled after allowing four
goals on 19 shots through two periods.

"I thought we played a very good first period," Tampa Bay
coach John Tortorella said. "The beginning of that second period,
the first three or four shifts and really right on through, they
fed it to us as far as grit.

"I'm not going to get into assessing any more of the game. I
don't know what we turned off. We will assess it as a team
tomorrow, together."

The Lightning have lost four of five.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," said St. Louis, who had
seven shots. "We've got to keep going."

Brind'Amour put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0 at 4:28 of the first
when Erik Cole's pass went off his skate and into the net. Belanger
scored on the power play midway through the second.

Game notes
Carolina D Glen Wesley and D Bret Hedican both missed their
second consecutive game with lower body injuries. ... The Lightning
have been outscored 9-2 in the first period this season. ...
Hurricanes RW Trevor Letowski, sidelined by a concussion, is
expected to be re-examined this week. ... Alexeev's goal was his
first since Feb. 23, 2003. He spent the past three seasons in the
minors and Russia.