Martin St. Louis recorded a goal and two assists and Mike Smith made 42 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning officially eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes from postseason consideration with a 6-2 road victory on Saturday night.
Carolina faced the must-win situation after the New York Rangers posted a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils earlier in the day. With the Hurricanes' loss, the Rangers secured the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the quarterfinals.
Captain Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and an assist and Steven Stamkos scored his 45th of the season for Tampa Bay, which owns the fifth seed in the East and will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference quarterfinals.
Despite their playoff lives being on the line, the Hurricanes didn’t muster much of a fight, allowing three unanswered goals in the first period by Dominic Moore, Lecavalier and Stamkos. Brett Clark then made it 4-0 at 10:53 of the second, drawing assists from Lecavalier and St. Louis.
Cory Stillman finally broke the drought moments later with his power-play tally, and Chad LaRose pulled the Hurricanes within 4-2 at 8:33 of the third.
Simon Gagne and St. Louis would later add empty-netters in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Cam Ward allowed four goals on 33 shots for Carolina, which finishes the season with 91 points.