*

upload_article_image

McElhinney leads Lightning to 3-1 win over Hurricanes

Curtis McElhinney stopped 31 shots and picked up an assist to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

Mikhail Sergachev, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow all scored for Tampa Bay, which won three of the four straight meetings between the teams.

Brett Pesce scored the lone goal for Carolina, which has lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 21-27, 2019. James Reimer finished with 19 saves.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) pumps his fist after scoring against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

After lamenting their starts in the previous two games, the Hurricanes started the game strong Thursday and registered six of the seven opening shots of the game. Carolina was rewarded with the first goal on a 2-on-1 with Jesper Fast feeding the pass across to Pesce, who jumped up on the rush, for a 1-0 lead at 14:23 of the first period.

After the teams kept trading, and failing to convert, on power-play chances, Tampa Bay tied the game at even strength. Off an offensive zone faceoff, Brayden Point won the draw clean back to Sergachev, who slipped a forehand under the arm of Reimer for his first goal of the season at 12:39 of the second period.

Tampa Bay took the lead for the first time early in the third as Victor Hedman hit Gourde with a stretch pass just outside the Carolina blue line. Gourde skated to the top of the right circle before ripping a slap shot to the far post for his fifth of the season at 6:22.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Barclay Goodrow (19) celebrates with the bench after his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

McElhinney picked up the secondary assist on the play for his fifth career NHL point, and first with the Lightning.

Goodrow, as he did Wednesday, sealed the victory with an empty-net goal after intercepting Jaccob Slavin's pass attempt just outside the Carolina blue line. The goal, his fifth of the season, came with 1:16 left.

CERNAK INJURED

Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with defenseman Jan Rutta (44) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay D Erik Cernak did not play the final 12:13 of the second period after blocking a shot on the penalty kill and did not return for the start of the third period. The team announced Cernak would miss the remainder of the game after suffering an undisclosed lower body injury.

GARDINER ABSENT

Carolina D Jake Gardiner, who played in Wednesday’s game, was a scratch for the third time in four games. Gardiner has no goals, seven assists and is a plus-3 in 16 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) pumps his fist after scoring against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: At Florida on Saturday.

Lightning: Host Dallas on Saturday.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jake Bean (24) battle for a loose puck in front of goaltender James Reimer (47) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) leaves his feet as he hits Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jake Bean (24) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)