RALEIGH, N.C. - The Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the NHL Playoffs with a 1-0 lead in the series. The teams meet Tuesday for the 10th time this season. The Lightning won the last meeting 2-1.
Alex Nedeljkovic has been the trusted netminder for the Carolina Hurricanes as a postseason first-timer.
Yet he’s also coming off allowing a shaky third-period goal that helped Tampa Bay take Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, undermining his otherwise quality outing.
Managing those ups and downs is the challenge for Nedeljkovic as the Hurricanes host the reigning Stanley Cup champs Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.
"It’s really honestly no different than any other kind of position I’ve been in," Nedeljkovic said before the series. "There’s obviously more people in the building now, so it’s a bigger audience. ... You’ve got to try to stay as even-keeled as possible, ride the highs and then try to obviously get out of the lows as quick as you can because they’re going to be there."
Barclay Goodrow beat Alex Nedeljkovic for the go-ahead goal with 7:21 left in Game 1.
Goodrow put the Stanley Cup champion Lightning ahead for good when he headed left against Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei, then shot from a sharp angle on the left side. The puck skid underneath Nedeljkovic’s right pad as it lifted slightly off the ice.
That lead held, with the Lightning holding off Carolina’s final minute with the empty net and extra attacker in a desperate tying attempt.
Instead, the Lightning won a road series opener for the second straight round. The Lightning swept the first two games at Florida in that six-game first-round series.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes have gone 36-12-8 against division opponents. Carolina is eighth in the NHL averaging 5.5 assists per game, led by Sebastian Aho with 0.6.
The Lightning are 36-17-3 against the rest of their division. Tampa Bay ranks sixth in the NHL with 30.2 shots per game and is averaging 3.2 goals.
Aho leads the Hurricanes with 24 goals and has 57 points. Jordan Staal has four goals and one assist over the last 10 games for Carolina.
Brayden Point has 48 total points while scoring 23 goals and totaling 25 assists for the Lightning. Alex Killorn has four goals and five assists over the last 10 games for Tampa Bay.
DURING THE PLAYOFFS: Hurricanes: Averaging 3.3 goals, 4.0 assists, 5.1 penalties and 11.4 penalty minutes while giving up 2.6 goals per game with a .923 save percentage.
Lightning: Averaging 3.7 goals, 6.7 assists, 6.0 penalties and 15.4 penalty minutes while giving up 2.6 goals per game with a .932 save percentage.
INJURIES: Hurricanes: Nino Niederreiter: day to day (upper-body).
Lightning: David Savard: day to day (upper-body), Erik Cernak: day to day (undisclosed), Barclay Goodrow: out (upper-body).