TAMPA — Goalie Ben Bishop said he believes in the "law of averages."
Having lost several hard-luck starts for the Lightning this season because of little goal support — including having a five-game losing streak — he figured it'd all balance out.
What a better day for that to start than Saturday, Bishop's 29th birthday.
Bishop was sparkling again in picking up his first shutout of the season, a 5-0 victory over the Ducks in front of an electric crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena.
"This time he didn't need to (shine)," captain Steven Stamkos said. "He could have given up four."
Stamkos, who scored twice, said the bounces are finally starting to go Tampa Bay's way, and the Lightning is earning them. The swagger also seems to be back for the Lightning (10-9-3), which may have turned the corner in Thursday's 2-1 victory over the red-hot Rangers. It has won two straight for the first time since starting the season 3-0-0.
"You never know what a trigger point is," coach Jon Cooper said. "It's just one game, but it's somewhat jump-started us."
"I don't want to say that right now," Bishop quipped. "I don't want to jinx anything."
That Stamkos scored his first goals in four games, giving him a team-high 11, and Nikita Kucherov got his first goal in seven games are good signs.
"I feel like my game has gotten better as the season went on," Stamkos said. "With our team — hopefully myself, personally — this could be a confidence boost."
Stamkos' two goals came 79 seconds apart in the second period after the Lightning had an admittedly stale first.
"You could see (the team) take a breath after that," Cooper said. "Everyone elevated their game after that."
The Lightning's recent callups from AHL Syracuse continued to be a breath of fresh air, injecting much-needed life. Jonathan Marchessault, so dangerous the past three games, scored on a power play. Defenseman Luke Witkowski tried, unsuccessfully, to get in Tampa Bay's first fight this season. And wing Joel Vermin, in his second NHL game, picked up his first career point, an assist on Kucherov's goal, and got the milestone puck.
"So awesome to be here," Vermin said. "A dream come true."
J.T. Brown, coming off arguably his best NHL game, continued his playmaking ways, setting up Brian Boyle's third-period goal.
And Bishop made sure the lead held up. Despite having a career-best season numbers-wise — a 2.05 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage — Bishop is just 8-7-2. That's largely due to that five-game losing streak, during which he gave up eight goals but Tampa Bay scored just three.
Bishop continued to make timely saves against the Ducks, 30 in all. None were bigger than his stop on Ryan Kesler in the second with Tampa Bay up 1-0. Kesler's shot on a 2-on-1 pinged off the post, and the puck bounced off Bishop's back and trickled toward the goal line. The goal lamp went on but was waved off. Bishop, seeing the puck out of the corner of his eye, swiped it back with the knob of his stick.
"Nice personally to have a little puck luck," Bishop said, smiling. "Probably because it's my birthday."
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
First Period—None. Penalties—Stewart, Ana (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:25; Witkowski, TB, double minor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:25.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 6 (Sustr, Vermin), 5:57. 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 10 (Callahan, Killorn), 12:35. 3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 11 (Kucherov, Namestnikov), 13:49 (pp). Penalties—Cogliano, Ana (tripping), 13:11; Kesler, Ana, double minor (roughing), 17:12; Bieksa, Ana (roughing), 17:12; Brown, TB (roughing), 17:12; Marchessault, TB (roughing), 17:12.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Boyle 4 (Brown), 5:29. 5, Tampa Bay, Marchessault 1 (Kucherov, Stamkos), 10:01 (pp). Penalties—Fowler, Ana (holding), 9:03; Manson, Ana (cross-checking), 17:39. Shots on Goal—Anaheim 8-13-9—30. Tampa Bay 6-9-9—24. Power-play opportunities—Anaheim 0 of 1; Tampa Bay 2 of 4. Goalies—Anaheim, Andersen 4-7-4 (24 shots-19 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 8-7-2 (30-30). A—19,092 (19,204). T—2:31. Referees—Greg Kimmerly, Chris Lee. Linesmen—Darren Gibbs, Shane Heyer.