Tampa Bay, FL -- Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each scored twice, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-4 in Game Four of their best-of-seven series. The Lightning now lead the series 3-1.
Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point also scored for the Lightning.
Jaccob Slavin, Teuvo Teravainen, Jesper Fast, and Dougie Hamilton scored for Carolina.
"You can't take penalties against these guys," Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "The penalties turned the game...That's the game in a nutshell. You can cut it any way you want it; you can't take six penalties...and that's what happened."
In a game where Carolina desperately wanted to avoid the penalty box, the Canes sent the red-hot Tampa powerplay to work six times in the game's first 40 minutes.
"If you give that caliber of powerplay that many chances, they're bound to get some bounces," Carolina defenceman Jaccob Slavin said. "There were a couple of bad bounces out there--their first powerplay goal off the crossbar--that's just a funky bounce...[But] you just can't give them that many chances."
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, Carolina roared back in the second period to take a 2-1 lead behind goals from Teuvo Teravainen and Jesper Fast.
In what has been a low-scoring series, a 2-1 lead looked impressive, but it didn't last.
At the mid-way point of the second period, Steven Stamkos fired home a shot on the powerplay to tie the game at 2-2. That was the first of six goals over the next ten minutes.
Carolina bounced back by scoring twice--both goals coming from defencemen. Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin beat Vasilevskiy to push Carolina's lead to two.
Yet, only a 1:30 after Slavin's goal, Jake Bean took a holding penalty that put Tampa back on the powerplay.
Kucherov got his first of the night, and Tyler Johnson tied the game minutes later.
But the true backbreaker came at 19:07.
Andrei Svechnikov, who had already been whistled for two minor penalties, took a roughing penalty in the offensive zone with less than a minute remaining in the period.
A cross-check on Sebastian Aho, mere feet from Svechnikov, was let go.
On the ensuing powerplay, Stamkos got his second goal of the game.
"They got guys that can finish," Brind'Amour said. "That's the story...You can't take those penalties, and we did."
The scoring bonanza that was the second period drew to a close, and the Canes tried to rally in the third. However, Kucherov's second goal of the night--one Petr Mrazek would like to have back--pushed the lead to two.
Carolina now returns home on the brink of elimination, needing to win three straight to keep their season alive.
"I think five-on-five, we're playing good," Canes forward Jesper Fast said. "We feel like we're doing all the good things. So I really believe that if we play our way and stay out of the box, we're going to turn this series around."
Andrei Svechnikov had two assists for Carolina; Jordan Staal, Cedric Paquette, Jordan Martinook, Steven Lorentz, Sebastian Aho, and Jaccob Slavin each had one assist.
Ondrej Palat had two assists for Tampa Bay; Anthony Cirelli, Ross Colton, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Pat Maroon, Brayden Point, Erik Cernak, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos each had one assist.
Warren Foegele and Blake Coleman pulled off the near-impossible. Jostling for position on the opening faceoff, they drew matching minors before the puck dropped.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves to earn his seventh win of the playoffs.
Petr Mrazek made 20 saves in the losing effort.
Game Five is Tuesday night in Raleigh at 6:30pm Eastern.