Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point, centre, lifts a backhand past rookie netminder Alex Nedeljkovic of the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period of game five in their second round NHL playoff series
Los Angeles (AFP) - Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots for the shutout and Brayden Point scored a powerplay goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 Tuesday to reach the semi-finals of the NHL playoffs.
The Lightning used Vasilevskiy’s superb goaltending, timely scoring and a stingy defence to win the second round best-of-seven series in five games.
Tampa Bay will play either the New York Islanders or the Boston Bruins in the final four. The Islanders lead that series 3-2.
Point scored a nifty goal to open the scoring four minutes into the second as he took a pass from Alex Killorn and then deked goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and backhanded the puck into the top half of the net in front of a crowd of 16,200 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
It was another example of the Lightning’s offensive stars finishing off plays around the net, especially on the power play which has been one of their strengths in the postseason.
Forward Ross Colton added the insurance goal with his third of the playoffs at 9:04 of the third.
“Today was one of our best games of the playoffs,” said Colton. “We have good confidence in each other and we feed off each other.”
It was a disappointing second round exit for the Hurricanes, who won the Central Division regular-season title, finishing ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champ Lightning.
Carolina went 20-3-5 at home during the regular season (including 3-1 against Tampa Bay) and won all three home games in the first round against the Nashville Predators.
The 25-year-old rookie Nedeljkovic made 23 saves as he appears to be on the way to becoming the Hurricanes goaltender of the future.