Home ice advantage has been anything but for the Carolina Hurricanes to start the second round.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup Champions have opened up their series against the Carolina Hurricanes with two big wins on the road in Raleigh as things now shift back to Amalie Arena.
The first period would be a scoreless one, but Alex Killorn would get the Lightning going with his third goal of the postseason at the 7:09 mark of the second. Tampa would nearly add to the lead as Jan Rutta would fire a shot that would beat Alex Nedeljkovic but not the crossbar with just over four minutes left in the frame.
The shot off the crossbar would come close to being fortuitous when it came to tying the game for Carolina. A couple of minutes after Jan Rutta nearly made it a 2-0 game, Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas would take advantage of a Tampa Bay turnover for a rare shorthanded two on one.
Andrei Vasilevskiy would disrupt Necas just enough with a poke check to send his backhander from the Aho pass just wide of the net. When it looked like we'd be discussing Carolina taking back a little momentum, the door was shut by the last line of defense.
In the third, Anthony Ciccarelli would extend the Tampa Bay lead at the 8:06 mark. Carolina would keep pressing in this one doing all they could to get back into things. The final few minutes would show there was still plenty of life in the Hurricanes as Andrei Svechnikov would finally beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to cut the Lightning lead in half at 18:30 of the third.
Carolina would keep pressing for the tying goal but the Lightning would be able to withstand the late pressure to take a 2-0 series lead.
Andrei Vasilevskiy would be rock solid once again in net for the Lighting as he'd lead the way with 32 saves in the victory. The strong performance from Tampa Bay's number one netminder would come on the same day he was nominated as a finalist for the 2021 Vezina Trophy. The awards may be for regular-season accolades but his playoff stats have also been among the best in the league.
Vasilevskiy currently leads all netminders in the wins category with six and his save percentage of .939 is third-best this postseason
The other names in the running for the Vezina include Marc-André Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer from the Colorado Avalanche.
The winner of the Vezina will be revealed during the NHL Awards which will take place during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 3 goes back to Tampa Bay on Thursday where the Lightning will be looking to put the Hurricanes on the ropes and closing out the series in Game 4 to avoid another trip to North Carolina.