Lightning waits to see its playoff seeding

by Gary Shelton on April 8, 2018 · 0 comments

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Dominique had 39 saves, but he lost in overtime./JEFFREY S. KING

Dominigue had 39 saves, but he lost in overtime./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 3 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Lightning might have made its post-season journey a tad more difficult Saturday night.

The Lightning, with a chance to clinch home-ice advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs, instead stubbed its collective toe, losing 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. Carolina is the sixth-place team from the Metropolitan Division, six points from the basement.

Elias Lindholm scored the winning goal 47 seconds into overtime.

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Palat scored the tying goal in the thrid period./JEFFREY S. KING

Palat scored the tying goal in the third period./JEFFREY S. KING

“Just straight out of the gate, we turn the puck over, it goes off our skate in the net and we’re down one," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "The second one, what do you say about that? There’s our two goals. You’re fighting back. Give the guys credit, they battled back hard, playing less than 24 hours earlier. We get that to overtime and we make a mental mistake on a change and that was it. Those things happen. They tend to happen on a back-to-back. We had our chances. We didn’t bury them, and they did.”

The Bolts took their 113th point of the season, leaving their future in the hands of today's Boston-Florida game. If the Bruins win, they would leapfrog the Lightning and Tampa Bay would play Toronto in the first round. If the Bruins lose, the Bolts would get the home-ice advantage and play New Jersey in Round One.

Callahllan scored his fifth goal of the season./CARMEN MANDATO

Callahan scored his fifth goal of the season./CARMEN MANDATO

“We’ve got 113 points," Cooper said. "And we won some big games down the stretch to put us in the position we’re in right now. It’s tough to sit back and wait now for tomorrow, but we’re going to leave here tonight and sit back and pat the guys on the back a little bit here, especially after missing last year and doing what we did today.

"Naturally, this is extremely disappointing the way this turned out, but I’m not disappointed in our regular season. I’m really proud of the way the guys worked and everything they’ve done. And that was our goal, let’s get to the playoffs. Where you finish, who you’re going to play, a lot of that’s out of your control. What was in your control was to make the playoffs. They did that. Now let’s see who we play.”

Carolina took a lead Saturday night when a pass went off of Jordan Staal's skate for a goal. Later, the Lightning challenged the second Hurricane goal, alleging goaltender interference. That was overruled, however.

The Bolts came back with a goal from Ryan Callahan and another from Ondrej Palat.

Leading Lightning scorer Nikita Kucherov came into the game needing one goal to reach 40 for the year. However, he never got off a shot.

Goaltender Luis Domingue stopped 39 shots for the night. He is 7-3-1 for the season with Tampa Bay.

“Louis made the saves he had to," Cooper said. "Kind of a tough one the second one the way it played out. He gets an unlucky break on the first one, other than that, he made all the saves he had to make.”

Dan Girardi was pleased with the team's comeback.

“Down two in the first period, it’s tough in this league to come back but we did," Girardi said. "We knew we had to get it done in overtime, but it wasn’t our night. We’ll need a little help to get that division title, but either way, we’re happy with our season. Obviously, got a lot of points, a lot of wins, can’t be too upset about it. It’s a pretty good season.”

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