Tampa, Fla. – ADVERSITY is a fact of life. ADVERSITY has surrounded the Tampa Bay Lightning this year but I now believe last night was a positive turning point of this season.
In the morning before the Calgary game Coach Guy Boucher said, “You know what? ADVERSITY builds you. It destroys you or builds you and that’s a choice. And I always believe if you, through ADVERSITY you fight through it. And still build and learn and eventually it’s going to pay off. Whether it pays off in the short term or the long term you never know. One thing is for sure if you don’t quit and you stick with it, and you believe in what you’re doing, and you don’t put your people down around you; it has a tendency to build you up.”
So puck drop time…Lightning strike first. This is something that has not seemed to happen often at the arena formerly known as the Ice Palace this year. A bank shot five minutes and eleven seconds into the game by Teddy Purcell. Purcell banked the puck off Calgary defenseman Chris Butler for a power play goal. The pressure of being behind is lifted; I was thinking, now can we get the pack mentality please?
The Flames would get one of those goals to tie the game that work on the stomach lining of coaches. A tally with just thirty three seconds left in the first period. Flames center Matt Stanjan (his first of the season in 24 games) was wide open on the door step as he directed a nice feed from winger Tim Jackman past Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon. So much for lifted pressure at home, the first intermission score 1-1.
In the second the Flames captain Jerome Inginla breaks the tie at just 1:57 from Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester and the air in the arena is filled with troublesome thoughts. A one goal lead is turned to a one goal deficit in just two and one half minutes of playing time.
A hard work goal by Bolts center Tom Pyatt ties the game back up. Pyatt worked hard to keep the puck in the zone leading to a scramble in front of Flames net-minder Miikka Kiprusoff which ended when Pyatt banged it home, light on. Hard work helpers go to Ryan Shannon and Blair Jones making the scramble turn favorable for the blue clad Bolts.
With score tied at two, less than two minutes later, Ryan Malone nets his seventh goal of the season from Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. The Tampa Bay Lightning regains the lead.
Nate Thompson said Teddy I can do it too and gave the Lightning a two goal lead with just thirty four seconds left in the second period to send the St. Pete Times Forum, soon to be the Tampa Bay Times Forum crowd of 17,241 into intermission enchantment. Thompson took a sharp angle shot which bounced off Chris Butler and in. 4-2 Bolts, wow a two goal lead…I was like, what’s this?
The Flames nailed a goal early in the third period just 0:58 in from Rene Bourque to cut the Lightning lead in half making the score 4-3. Bourque fanned on his shot that dribbled five-hole through Garon.
With just 3:12 left in regulation the Flames tie the score when Olli Jokinen’s tip in beat Garon with former Lightning Alex Tanguay picking up one of the assists. Tanguay drilled a slap-shot that was neatly tipped in by Jokinen… scored tied 4-4.
Coach Boucher said after the game, “When there was three minutes left, I said hey, let’s get the point, let’s get something postive and go get’em in overtime. We’ve been getting them in overtime all year long.”
After the 3:12 bled off the clock, the 4 on 4 overtime period would commence and the Lightning took thier coach’s advice.
Just thirty seconds in Steven Stamkos scores the game winner which also gave him a tie for the league lead in goals with Milan Michalek (Ottawa) at 19. The game winner would warrant Stamkos the number one star.
“Yea it was big, when you are struggling to get wins, you’ll take any way you can get’em” said Steven Stamkos of the win. “It all started with Kubie (Pavel Kubina) , he did not get an assist on the play but he made a great play, used the net and gave it to me right up the middle which I think caught them off guard… it was a great play by everyone (Brewer, Kubina, Downie) involved, it was a great win.”
Eric Brewer, who was the number three star with the game winning assist and a plus three, said after the game, “It was very big, we’re looking for wins, and we’re looking for points…tonight we found a way to win even though it was bit of a goofy game at times… It’s pretty simple we’re looking to move forward and make plays.”
Brewer gave a feed to Stamkos streaking back door for the tap in game winner. When Brewer was asked if he thought of shooting, he said, “I think when you have a guy like that going in the back door; I think anybody is going to shoot at that point. Unless the goalie was completely down, which wasn’t the case.” (laughter)
The Lightning badly needed this two points and giving the one point overtime loss to a Western Conference team is no harm. Yes we are counting every little point.
Speaking of Western Conference, that is what we are thinking as a three game road trip in the Western Conference begins Saturday at Columbus, then back home for two days then off to the real west San Jose the 21st and Colorado the 23rd.