TAMPA — When Ben Bishop made a spectacular skate save with two minutes left in regulation Saturday, desperately flinging his right pad up to preserve a one-goal lead, the Lightning had to think maybe — just maybe — things were about to turn.
"Pretty much had the game won," Bishop said. "But all for nothing."
That's because with 43 seconds left, the puck rolled off Ryan Callahan's stick just over the glass for a delay of game penalty, giving the Panthers a 6-on-4 power play with their goalie pulled. Five seconds later, defenseman Aaron Ekblad forced overtime with a goal, a point shot that deflected off the stick of Erik Condra.
Though the Lightning left a 5-4 shootout loss with a point, it felt a little empty considering it had a chance for its first win streak since the first three games of the season.
"I think we've won games that we shouldn't have won," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "This is one maybe we should have won but didn't."
Said captain Steven Stamkos: "Just the way the season has been going for us."
There were some encouraging signs for the Lightning (8-8-3), which scored two or more goals in back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 20 and 23. Vladislav Namestnikov, who coach Jon Cooper said earned a spot on the top line, racked up two goals, the second multigoal game of his career. Tampa Bay got closer to playing a 60-minute game, showing more consistent jump and fight.
But once again, a lapse cost it. The Lightning gave up a second-period lead on a breakaway goal and a penalty shot in two minutes, partly due to losing its structure. And bad luck aside, it still couldn't finish off a win, including getting shut out in the shootout.
"We've still got some room to improve," Bishop said. "Take a 2-1 lead and give up three breakaways and a penalty shot in the next four minutes. Can't do that."
Bishop made 19 saves, plus two in the shootout, but picked up his sixth loss in his past seven starts. His best stop came on Brandon Pirri, who later scored the only shootout goal. Bishop stuffed him on the doorstep with a leg while facedown on the ice. "Could have been a game-saver," Cooper said.
It should have been. With the Panthers pressuring in the final minute, Callahan tried to clear the puck out of his zone, but it went out of play just inside the blue line. "It almost landed in our bench," Cooper said. "I need to be a little bit taller. I could have batted it out of the air."
In overtime, Bishop made a big glove save six seconds in on a Vincent Trocheck breakaway. Roberto Luongo stopped Stamkos on a penalty shot.
The Lightning has struggled in shootouts, going 3-5 last season and falling to 0-2 this season, without a goal in six attempts. Victor Hedman, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula were all stopped Saturday. Cooper said Filppula has a 25 percent success rate, Hedman has had success and Boyle has been hot in practice. "We're not just throwing a dart picking our shooters," he said. "Maybe that's what we'll do next time."
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
First—1, Fla, Jokinen 4 (Trocheck, Campbell), 4:48. 2, TB, Paquette 2 (J.T.Brown), 15:22. Penalties—Paquette, TB (tripping), 9:03; Pirri, Fla (holding stick), 9:55.
Second—3, TB, Namestnikov 4 (Stamkos), 1:02. 4, Fla, Bjugstad 6 (Smith, Huberdeau), 2:39. 5, Fla, Pirri 3 (penalty shot), 4:47. 6, TB, Stralman 1 (Killorn, Hedman), 7:49. Penalties—Thornton, Fla (elbowing), 11:25.
Third—7, TB, Namestnikov 5 (J..Brown, Stamkos), 9:56. 8, Fla, Ekblad 3 (Smith, Bolland), 19:22 (pp). Penalties—Paquette, TB (high-stick), 3:08; Thornton, Fla, minor-misconduct (rough), 10:20; Howden, Fla (rough), 10:20; J..Brown, TB, minor-misconduct (rough), 10:20; Paquette, TB (interfere), 10:20; Callahan, TB (delay game), 19:17. OT—None. Penalties—Kucherov, TB (holding), 4:36. SO—Fla 1 (Pirri G, Bjugstad NG), TB 0 (Hedman NG, Boyle NG, Filppula NG). SOG—Fla 7-6-9-1—23. TB 6-11-10-1—28. PP opps—Fla 1 of 4; TB 0 of 2. Goalies—Fla, Luongo 5-6-2 (28 shots-24 saves). TB, Bishop 6-7-2 (23-19).