Heading Down The Homestretch: Lightning Fend Off Hurricanes, 4-3

Matthew Drumheller@@mrdrumhellerContributor IFebruary 13, 2011

The Tampa Bay Lightning had one of their worst games of the season Tuesday in losing to the Buffalo Sabres 7-4.

The score alone is bad enough, but factor in the fact Tampa was up 3-1 then squandered away the lead and their performance was extremely lackluster.

Saturday night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes was nearly the same story.

Tampa Bay held a 3-1 lead late into the period, only to give up two unanswered goals to Carolina once they pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Those two were tallied by Jeff Skinner, his 21st, and Erik Cole, his 15th.

Enter defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron. The power-play specialist gathered in the crossing pass from winger Sean Bergenheim and got off a wrister past Hurricane goalie Cam Ward to give the Lightning their 34th win of the season.

All the scoring started in the second period with grinder Steve Downie popping in his seventh of the year as Steven Stamkos and his NHL-leading 74 points assisted on the play along with Martin St. Louis.

The captains of each team got a goal for their teams. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier got his fourth in three games while Canes cap Eric Staal got Carolinas first score.

In a game the Lightning needed very much to keep their Southeastern division pace above the Washington Capitals. That lead now stands with the Lightning notching their 73rd point and Washington stumbling to the Los Angeles Kings, still sitting at 68 points.

Carolina still is tied with the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.