Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning rallies in third to beat Oilers (w/video)

EDMONTON — For most of this season, coach Jon Cooper has quipped that the Lightning has tried to pass the puck into the net.

On Friday, it finally worked.

In a stunning comeback, the Lightning scored three third-period goals — all off Oilers players — to pick up a potentially galvanizing 3-2 win. It was Tampa Bay's first win at Rexall Place since March 2007, and wow, was it wild. Captain Steven Stamkos scored the winner with about four minutes left when his cross-crease pass went in off the Oilers' Darnell Nurse.

"We keep saying, we earn our breaks — literally, two goals off caroms," Stamkos said. "But that's the way it goes when you're doing the right things and believing in yourself. We didn't quit and got rewarded."

Stamkos had called out his team — including himself — Thursday for not having enough consistent effort this season, a reason why the defending Eastern Conference champions are still out of a playoff spot. But by blending its skill with will, like it did for a good portion of Friday's game, Tampa Bay (20-17-4) could get right back into the mix. It is now just one point out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (with one game in hand over eighth-place New Jersey).

"The thing that stuck out for our group was our compete," Stamkos said. "I certainly felt our group responded to the challenge from each other, coaching staff, from the organization, that we need to be better."

Said defenseman Victor Hedman: "We showed how good we can be. Everything was like normal."

Things didn't look good early, with the Oilers taking a 1-0 lead in the first period. It could have been worse had it not been for a spectacular sprawling save by Hedman, who was on his back near the crease when he deflected a shot out with his arm.

"I was a goalie when I was younger,' Hedman said, smiling. "It ended up being a pretty big play. Luck involved in that one."

The Oilers took a 2-0 lead four minutes into the second on a power-play goal. But as Tampa Bay entered the intermission, it had confidence.

"We never thought we were out of it," Cooper said.

"We talked about how good it would feel if we won," goalie Ben Bishop said. "We really wanted it."

Nikita Kucherov started the rally with a goal three minutes into the third on a shot from the point that deflected in off Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson.

"That kind of broke the seal," Bishop said. "And we kept coming."

Then, with five minutes left, Hedman — who had three points in an outstanding game — sent a pass across to streaking Ondrej Palat, the puck bouncing off the stick of Oilers All-Star Taylor Hall.

But a third time?

Just one minute later, Stamkos attempted a cross-crease feed from near the left post to Palat, but the puck went in off Nurse, who appeared stunned. Stamkos said he didn't try to bank it in.

"It wasn't Wayne Gretzky '93 that killed the Leafs," Stamkos joked. "Just trying to get the puck to the net."

The win reaffirmed the confidence general manager Steve Yzerman showed before the game, saying his team, finally healthy at the season's midpoint, can make a run before the trade deadline Feb. 29.

"The reality is I expect us to be in the hunt for a playoff spot," Yzerman said. "We'll have to decide where we want to go at that point. Let's get everyone healthy, let's stay healthy, and let's see if we can get it going.

"I believe in this group; they're good guys. They're good players. Certainly you can't question any of their effort and competitiveness of the team. It's been a struggle. In some ways, if we can overcome it, it'll make us better and stronger."

Contact Joe Smith at j[email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning 0 0 3 3
Oilers 1 1 0 2

 

First Period1, Edmonton, Schultz 2 (Eberle), 15:20. PenaltiesDraisaitl, Edm (hooking), 1:59; Edmonton bench, served by Pouliot (too many men), 5:09.

Second Period2, Edmonton, Pouliot 9 (Nugent-Hopkins, Sekera), 3:38 (pp). PenaltiesKucherov, TB (tripping), 2:52; Namestnikov, TB (hooking), 5:25; Nesterov, TB (interference), 19:05.

Third Period3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 15 (Hedman, Johnson), 3:01. 4, Tampa Bay, Hedman 3, 14:50. 5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 18 (Hedman, Namestnikov), 15:51. PenaltiesDavidson, Edm (holding), 5:11. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 9-8-9—26. Edmonton 5-14-7—26. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 3; Edmonton 1 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Bishop 16-13-3 (26 shots-24 saves). Edmonton, Talbot 7-12-2 (26-23).

Comments
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Published: 05/25/18
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Published: 05/24/18
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Published: 05/24/18
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Published: 05/24/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Published: 05/24/18
Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.Here are some postgame re...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

TAMPA — After Alex Ovechkin's goal 62 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, the next highlight was an extended fight between Lightning D Braydon Coburn and Capitals RW Tom Wilson, with a two-minute break for them to spe...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18