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Monday June 14th, 2021 12:40AM

Lightning eliminate Hurricanes, advance to Cup semifinals

By The Associated Press
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Brayden Point and Ross Colton scored and Andrei Vasilevskiy controlled the crease, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the second-round playoff series in five games.

Vasilevskiy finished with 29 saves and stumped the homesteading Hurricanes for the third time in as many series games at PNC Arena. The former Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goaltender and a finalist this year had allowed just two goals on 70 shots through the first two games to open this series.

Then, after a wild Game 4 in Florida that saw each team score four second-period goals, Vasilevskiy turned away all shots to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions advance. It was his third career postseason shutout, each coming in three straight series clinchers, starting with last year's Cup clincher against Dallas.

Among his saves Tuesday was a huge glove stop of a 2-on-1 short-handed chance by Carolina's Vincent Trocheck.

Point's goal came moments later on a gorgeous effort. He took a feed from Alex Killorn to his backhand side near the crease, went to his forehand before returning to the backhand to get Carolina netminder Alex Nedeljkovic off balance just enough to score at 4:06 of the second.

The Lightning nearly pushed that lead to 2-0 with captain Steven Stamkos scoring a buzzer-beating goal, but a review determined the puck didn't cross the goal line in time. But Colton made up for it at 9:04 of the third, making it 2-0 and more than enough for Vasilevskiy in this game.

Next up for Tampa Bay is the winner of the series between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins. The Islanders lead that best-of-seven series 3-2 and can close it out Wednesday at home.

It was a frustrating finish for the Hurricanes, who were in the playoffs for the third straight season after a nine-season drought. They won the Central Division title for their first division crown since winning the Cup in 2006, and were in the Presidents' Trophy race until the final week of the season.

But, Carolina lost all three home games in this series, despite having a rowdy crowd of more than 16,000 in attendance.

Nedeljkovic had 23 saves for the Hurricanes.

INJURY WATCH

The Hurricanes got a significant boost with the return of Trocheck and winger Nino Niederreiter from multi-game injuries.

Niederreiter hadn't played this series due to an upper-body injury suffered in a practice before the series opener. Trocheck suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2 and hasn’t played since.

Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele remained sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered in a Game 3 hit.

STORM WARNING

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule sounded the storm-warning siren for the Hurricanes to take the ice for the third period.

Duke associate head men’s basketball coach Jon Scheyer — who last week was named the coach-in-waiting successor to Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski for the 2022-23 season — sounded the first-intermission siren.

Matt James, a former Wake Forest football player and star of the reality TV show “The Bachelor," sounded the pregame siren.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Hockey
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