TAMPA — You could tell by Ben Bishop's celebration just how much Saturday night's 2-1 shootout win over the Capitals meant to the Lightning.
Bishop pumped his fist, then emphatically waved both arms at the Amalie Arena sellout crowd of 19,092, which finally had something to celebrate. Tampa Bay had snapped its season-long four-game losing streak and picked up its first points in 10 days.
"Big win," center Brian Boyle said. "Stop the bleeding."
As important as the streak-snapping victory was for the Lightning (14-11-1), the most encouraging part was how it completed the feat. This was its best defensive effort in a few weeks, buoyed by timely special teams and vintage Bishop, who made 34 saves and two more in the shootout. Boyle scored the winner.
"Everyone paid the price," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We played desperate; we played together. That was one of our most complete games all year. That's the way we want to play. Got to keep building on this."
The Lightning believed it built off Thursday's 5-4 loss in St. Louis. It thought it deserved a better fate in that game — at least a point — having been done in by three Blues power-play goals. "We had a good feeling," coach Jon Cooper said. "Let's just carry that into (Saturday)."
Tampa Bay did just that. And the carry-over started in its zone. Despite playing without defenseman Jason Garrison (lower-body injury), the Lightning had one of its cleaner defensive performances. It won board battles. It eliminated the kind of costly, careless turnovers that had led it to give up 19 goals in its previous four games.
"Just the effort, the compete level, desperation — everything was outstanding," Hedman said.
The Lightning still took too many penalties, but it held the potent Capitals power play to a 1 for 6 performance. The Washington goal was a big one, Nicklas Backstrom tying the score six minutes into the third.
Nikita Kucherov had given Tampa Bay the important first goal in the second. Having blown a third-period lead, the struggling Lightning could have had a here-we-go-again moment.
"I'm sure when they scored their goal, we were probably a little bit more on edge," Cooper said.
But Bishop came through, resembling his Vezina-Trophy-finalist play of last season. He helped hold off a late Capitals rally, then thwarted Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin in the shootout. Boyle followed Ovechkin by beating last season's Vezina winner, Braden Holtby, five-hole.
The Lightning got just its second win against teams in a playoff spot (2-9-0), and it didn't have much time to soak in the victory. It traveled to Raleigh, N.C., after the game to face the Hurricanes today, its Eastern Conference-leading 16th road game. But this looked like a much different team from the one Boyle called too easy to play against after Tuesday's 5-1 loss in Columbus.
"We're trying to find ourselves as a team a little bit," Boyle said. "Teams go through this. We told it like it was. But we stuck together. We're going to have to get out of this. It's not just one game."
But it's a start.
|Lightning wins shootout 2-1|
First Period—None. Penalties—Backstrom, WSH, (high sticking), 4:07; Ovechkin, WSH, (tripping), 8:58.
Second Period—1, TB, Kucherov 13 (Hedman, Drouin), 12:38 (pp). Penalties—Killorn, TB, (hooking), 1:16; Ovechkin, WSH, (slashing), 11:49; Paquette, TB, (high sticking), 14:45; Filppula, TB, (interference), 17:09.
Third Period—2, WSH, Backstrom 7 (Johansson, Carlson), 6:24 (pp). Penalties—Coburn, TB, (high sticking), 5:42; Sustr, TB, (hooking), 10:19.
Overtime—None. Penalties—TB bench, served by Kucherov (too many men on the ice), 4:26.
SO—WSH 1 (Kuznetsov G, Backstrom NG, Ovechkin NG), TB 2 (Drouin NG, Point G, Kucherov NG, Boyle G). SOG—WSH 8-11-12-4—35. TB 11-7-10-5—33. PP opps—WSH 1 of 6; TB 1 of 3. Goalies—WSH, Holtby 10-6-2 (33 shots-32 saves). TB, Bishop 8-9-0 (35-34).