The Carolina Hurricanes were looking good in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, scoring four goals in a span of 8:11 and holding a 4-2 lead at 12:41.
It didn’t last.
The Hurricanes took too many penalties throughout the game, went on the kill six times and allowed three power-play goals in the second period in their 6-4 loss in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
“We knew coming in, you can’t take penalties against these guys, and we were taking them,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There were frustrations on the guys’ part and mine that there were penalties, but there were definitely some the other way. That’s where the frustration was happening. But again, you can’t take the penalties, no matter if you’re getting calls or not. You just can’t take the risk, I guess, is the best way to put it.”
Carolina trails the defending Stanley Cup champions 3-1 in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
The Hurricanes took 198 penalties in the regular season (tied for 16th in NHL) and their penalty kill was third (150-for-176, 85.2 percent). They’ve taken 48 penalties in the playoffs, second to the Lightning (49), and are ninth on the penalty kill (31-of-40, 77.5 percent).
Tampa Bay’s power play was ninth in the regular season (40-for-180, 22.2 percent) and is second in the playoffs (14-for-34, 41.2 percent) behind the Colorado Avalanche (11-of-25, 44.0 percent).
“We have to be way more disciplined,” Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast said. “They came out hard, but in the second period we start to take over and we made it too hard on ourselves by taking too many penalties.”
Goaltender Petr Mrazek also struggled. Starting his second straight game after not playing since May 10, he allowed six goals on 26 shots. Brind’Amour said he considered pulling Mrazek to start the third period.
“He’s a battler. I know he doesn’t want to come out of a game like that,” Brind’Amour said. “So we didn’t [pull him].”
Jaccob Slavin scored his first goal of the playoffs to give Carolina a 4-2 lead at 12:41 of the second period, but defenseman Jake Bean was called for holding at 14:11 and Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored 27 seconds into the power play to cut the lead to 4-3.
Tyler Johnson tied the game 4-4 at 17:10 and, after Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov was called for roughing at 19:07, Steven Stamkos gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead at 19:37.
Stamkos also scored with the man-advantage at 9:54 of the second to tie it 2-2.
The Hurricanes had killed the Lightning’s first three power plays, two in the first period and one early in the second.
“I think if you just give that caliber a power play that many chances, they’re bound to get some bounces,” Slavin said. “There were a couple of bad bounces, the first power-play goal, [shot] off the crossbar, that’s a funky bounce. You just can’t give them that many chances.”
The Hurricanes are 0-4 in their history when trailing 3-1 in a best-of-7 series. They believe they can come back against the Lightning, but they must be much more disciplined.
“I mean, 5-on-5 we were playing good,” Fast said. “I felt like we were doing good things. I really believe if we play our way and stay out of the box, we’re going to turn this series around.”