Final

Series (Game 4 of 8)

Tampa Bay leads 5-3

Game 1: Monday, October 16th
Hurricanes5Final
Lightning1
Game 2: Thursday, October 26th
Hurricanes1Final
Lightning5
Game 3: Saturday, October 28th
Lightning4Final
Hurricanes6
Game 4: Saturday, December 16th
Hurricanes3Final
Lightning2
Game 5: Saturday, January 20th
Lightning6Final
SO
Hurricanes5
Game 6: Thursday, February 1st
Lightning4Final
Hurricanes0
Game 7: Friday, March 30th
Lightning4Final
Hurricanes2
Game 8: Tuesday, April 3rd
Hurricanes2Final
Lightning3

Hurricanes 3

(16-14-4, 36 pts)

Lightning 2

(14-17-2, 30 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 16, 2006

Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
CAR 0 1 23
TB 0 1 12

Top Skaters

Carolina: R. Whitney - 2 G, 4 SOG, +1

Tampa Bay: R. Craig - 1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, Even

Hurricanes slip past Lightning, end five-game losing streak

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes haven't been playing like the defending Stanley Cup champions. A team meeting resulted in a step back in that direction.

Eric Staal scored the go-ahead goal, Cam Ward had 30 saves, and the Hurricanes stopped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

"I think we made a conscious effort in the meeting we had today that we weren't going to get discouraged and we weren't going to get frustrated," Hurricanes left wing Ray Whitney said. "I think our overall mentality toward the game was better. At times I think we felt like it was our right to win, whether we deserved it or not. I think from the meeting we had this morning, we were made well aware that that's not the way it's going to be anymore."

Staal scored with 7:02 remaining in the game on a rebound after Erik Cole's shot hit the post. Whitney had two goals, including one on a breakaway to make it 3-1 with 1:24 remaining.

"It's a starting point," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's one win after a tough stretch. "

Ryan Craig and Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa Bay, which has lost four in a row and eight of nine.

"That's the worst thing that we can do right now is be down," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We have to stay with it. Stay within our team concept. Try and stay positive. We've got to stay strong in that area."

St. Louis' power-play goal in the final minute pulled Tampa Bay within 3-2. He has four goals and 11 points in his last five games.

Ward turned aside Vincent Lecavalier's low slot backhander during the second. He also made a diving glove save on Lecavalier with 8 minutes left in the third.

"It's a huge relief," Ward said. "This is a very important game for us, especially being a divisional opponent and knowing that Tampa Bay was going to be hungry for a win because they've been kind of going through the same thing."

Lecavalier's eight-game point streak came to an end. He had eight goals and 15 points during the stretch.

Craig put the Lightning ahead 1-0 from in close at 7:49 of the second. Whitney's power-play goal tied it 1-1 with 6:55 left in the period.

Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis got some help 90 seconds into the third. After Justin Williams hit the post, Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba cleared the puck out of the crease before Whitney could get a rebound chance. The goalie stopped Cole during a 2-on-1 about 3 minutes into the game and made a save on Whitney's in-close chance late in the second.

Denis finished with 24 saves. He has lost nine of his last 10 decisions.

Game notes


Tampa Bay LW Ruslan Fedotenko was out of the lineup due to a coaches' decision. He has two goals over his last 17 games. ... Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour (lower body injury) missed his fourth straight game. ... Tampa Bay C Brad Richards' four-game goal-scoring streak ended.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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