Insider: Lightning Strike Late To Earn Point

For much of Tuesday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, it looked like it would be the same story for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The habits of the road trip seemed to follow the team home. There was penalty trouble early, the power play looked power less, and nothing seemed to be going right for the Tampa Bay Lightning. But if nothing else, the Lightning proved to be resilient, coming back from three goals down with less than six minutes to go in the game to gain a point in the standings, after losing to the Canadiens in the shootout.

Early in the first period, the Lightning would find themselves in penalty trouble on a number of sequences where the calls were questionable at best. A five on three man power advantage for Montreal saw the Canadiens take a 1-0 lead on a Brian Gionta goal as he was left alone in front of the net. The Lightning took issue with the second penalty in that sequence, feeling Victor Hedman was hit away from the puck by Montreal Canadiens forward Erik Cole that put the Lightning down two men.

“The first period, we played a great first period,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “It’s a five on three we don’t deserve. Hedman gets knocked, driven, he has no puck. So instead of equalizing, making it a four on four, it’s a five on three and they score on it. With all the adversity we have been having, and no breaks, it takes a toll.”

From there, Montreal continued to roll, getting goals in the second period from defenseman P. K. Subban and Travis Moen. After Montreal went up 3-0, it looked like the Lightning would be heading to their fifth straight loss.

The Lightning’s resiliency came through late in the third period, as Victor Hedman got the team on the board on a pretty passing play from Tom Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot. That goal gave the building some much needed life, and Hedman would strike again just over four minutes later, when he deflected a puck off either the hand or the stick to get the Lightning within a goal. The goal would be reviewed, but it was upheld after no conclusive video evidence was found to overturn the goal in Toronto.

With the Lightning within a goal of tying the game, Montreal made things really interesting when Tomas Plekanec took a tripping penalty with 1:04 left in regulation. The Lightning finally converted on the power play, a power play that was getting booed by the home crowd earlier in the game, when Sami Salo ripped a shot from the point that pin balled into the back of the net to tie the game at three.

After neither team could convert in overtime, the game would head to a shootout. The Lightning would send out Victor Hedman, Marty St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos, none of which would be able to convert. Montreal would ultimately win the shootout on a David Desharnais goal. Desharnais was the only player to convert in the shootout for either team.

Even though the Lightning failed to come away with two points, the team still has to feel good about coming back to tie the game the way they did, and can build on that moving forward. St. Louis still pointed out that maybe the team had it just a bit too easy in the early going of the season.

“I think our early success this season, I think it is haunting us a little bit,” St. Louis said. “We almost had it too easy too quick.  I don’t want to take away from any of our wins, but we didn’t have to earn them as much our power play was strong and we were putting away teams early in the game. They were easier games, so to speak, and we played some hard games here on this road trip. We realized how hard you have to play in this league if you want to win, but I felt that we stayed with it in the third and played for each other and turned it around a little bit and got a point out of it and that’s a positive.”