The Lightning now hold a 3-1 series lead over the Hurricanes thanks to a chaotic second period in Game 4 in which eight goals were scored between the teams. The Ray won 6-4.
Tampa Bay entered the period with a 1-0 lead, but in a 39 second span of about 4 1/2 minutes, they lost 2-1 thanks to goals from Teuvo Teravainen and Jesper Fast. OK, no problem.
But then the fun really started halfway through.
Steven Stamkos scored a power play goal at 9:54 am to tie the game. Forty-one seconds later, Dougie Hamilton put up a 3-2 lead on Carolina. Just over two minutes after that, fellow defender, and Lady Byng’s finalist in 2021, Jaccob Slavin made it 4-2.
Just under two minutes after Slavin’s goal, the Lightning began their barrage. First, Nikita Kucherov scored a power play goal at 2:38 pm. Less than three minutes later, Tyler Johnson tied the game 4-4. Just over two minutes after that, it was the captain, Stamkos, with a power play goal. Kucherov had his second of the game in the third period.
“Probably the craziest playoff period will see him the rest of the way,” Stamkos said. “Certainly exciting for the fans, but you know, I give credit to our guys; we went down two goals, a couple of unfortunate rebounds. I didn’t think we were really playing our game and we just talked about staying in the moment.” …. A victory is a playoff victory. We will certainly accept it. “
While Stamkos was normally calm about the period, in which the Hurricanes scored four goals, head coach Jon Cooper was more colorful in his description. After Lightning lost in Game 3 in overtime, Cooper compared the playoffs to a “bloody roller coaster”; In Saturday’s postgame Zoom, Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times referenced that quote and asked what trip that second period would have been.
“I haven’t been to a theme park in a long time,” Cooper said before asking Gabriel Marte, the Lightning’s digital video manager, “What is the badass roller coaster you’ve seen?”
After some confirmation from others in the room: “It was the Hulk.”
The “Hulk” is the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Studios and is described on Universal’s website in this way: “Before you can blink, you are catapulted with the force of a fighter plane. The power of the Hulk propels you face down in a weightless zero gravity spin, running faster and faster down the runway. Endure with superhuman strength while on the run High speed riot and red line makes its way across the sky. “
Translation: a doozy. Cooper then continued with his answer.
“It’s weird, I think there were 11 goals in the series (coming in on Saturday) … And to see what it is, eight going into the second period. That was chaotic. The damn circus out there,” he said. “But there will definitely be no refunds after that. That was, take your hat off your coach. It was an incredibly entertaining second period.”
Game 5, when Cooper’s team will look to close things out and advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals, is Tuesday in Raleigh.