for this game

'Canes upend Lightning, keep pace in playoff race

Mar 26, 2011 - 4:19 AM Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Erik Cole scored twice and the Carolina Hurricanes survived to take a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opener of a home-and-home set at St. Pete Times Forum.

The win helps Carolina keep pace with Buffalo in the standings as both teams won on Friday. The Sabres have 83 points while the Hurricanes have 80 as both squads have eight games to play.

Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Jeff Skinner added a goal for the Hurricanes, who have won three straight after dropping five of six. Cam Ward stopped 18 shots in the win.

"They got a couple of quick goals and were coming on there at the end, but I thought we had a great game tonight," said Staal. "We've been fighting things a little bit the past couple of weeks, but we're starting to get things together here."

Tampa sits in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, but will be hard pressed to move up in the standings as the team is seven back of Pittsburgh for fourth place and seven points back of Washington for the top spot in the Southeast Division and second spot in the conference. Also, the Lightning hold just a two-point lead over Montreal.

Simon Gagne had two goals and Vincent Lecavalier added a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who have dropped four straight and are just 2-6-4 in March. Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves in the loss.

"You see a lot of teams playing desperate hockey this time of the season," said Gagne. "For them, it's already the playoffs and it showed tonight."

These two teams will meet in Carolina on Saturday.

Carolina held a three-goal lead with 7:40 to play after Staal scored off a rebound in front during the power play for a 4-1 advantage, but Tampa scored twice in the next two minutes to make it interesting.

The first goal came just 57 seconds later off a left circle faceoff win as Lecavalier redirected a Victor Hedman left point shot for his 20th goal of the season.

Less than a minute after that, another left circle faceoff win saw Martin St. Louis line up a shot in the high slot that hit a Carolina stick and Gagne finish the play in front.

However, Carolina held off the charging Lightning the rest of the way for the win.

Tampa got the first goal of the game with a power-play marker at the 7:11 mark of the first when he swiped the puck in from the right side.

However, Skinner answered less than six minutes later when Skinner found a missed pass in the slot and wristed it home.

Cole scored the only goal of the second period at the 8:23 mark of the second on the power play as Cory Stillman sent a pass from the right point to the left side where Cole shoveled it in.

It was a 3-1 game 6:50 into the third when Cole stole the puck in front and backhanded it past Roloson for his 22nd goal of the season.

Game Notes

Lecavalier has reached the 20-goal plateau every year since his rookie season in 1998-99...Each team has won twice in the series this season...Tampa was 2- for-5 on the power play while Carolina was 2-for-6.