TAMPA — Years from now, when Lightning wing J.T. Wyman describes his first NHL goal, he may use his imagination and recall it was a rocket off the post.
"Bar down," he said, smiling.
In reality, Wyman's second-period wrist shot from the right circle Thursday night barely crossed the goal line after trickling through Montreal goalie Carey Price. "It's still waiting to hit the back of the net," Wyman joked of the puck.
But it was arguably the biggest goal of the Lightning's 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Canadiens. With Tampa Bay down 3-1, the Lightning's Steven Stamkos said it "swung the momentum" in erasing the deficit against Wyman's former team in front of 19,204 at the St. Pete Times Forum. "That completely changed the game," Price said.
Wyman, 25 and playing in his sixth NHL game, had to wait a few extra minutes to find out whether he had a goal. Officials reviewed whether the whistle was blown before the puck went in. "The wait maybe made it a little more thrilling," he said. "But it was worth it. It was worth the wait."
Coach Guy Boucher said Wyman's work in front of the net occupying some Canadiens near the crease in assisting on Vinny Lecavalier's winner midway through the third was just as important. The victory was key for Tampa Bay (16-17-3), which has won two straight and four of its past six.
"We're finding ways to win games now," Stamkos said. "Where before we were finding ways to lose games."
Stamkos started the scoring in the first with his league-leading 23rd goal. But the Canadiens racked up three consecutive goals to take the lead, and it could have been worse for the Lightning if not for another impressive game by goalie Mathieu Garon, who had 31 saves, including nine in a sloppy first.
"Garon made some terrific saves," Boucher said.
The Lightning wasn't at its best, with too many unforced turnovers, a struggling power play and an injury-depleted defense without Victor Hedman (upper-body injury). But Tampa Bay did what it has done best this season, battle back, with Wyman and Marc-Andre Bergeron scoring to tie the score at 3.
Lecavalier's go-ahead goal came on a play drawn up by Boucher during a TV timeout. Lecavalier won the faceoff, and Dominic Moore threw a shot toward the net. Wyman, a physical 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward, did what he was told: crash the crease and get his stick on the puck as it slid to a streaking Lecavalier, who slammed it in at 8:37.
In the final two minutes, Lightning defenseman Bruno Gervais committed a delay of game penalty. With the Canadiens pulling Price for a six-on-four advantage and defenseman Eric Brewer losing his stick in a final-seconds scramble, defenseman Pavel Kubina dove on the ice to block a shot before a Garon save at the buzzer.
"It was a one-shot difference tonight," Kubina said.
No matter how Wyman's went in.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 23 (Kubina, Downie), 3:43. 2, Montreal, Cammalleri 8 (Desharnais, Diaz), 8:42 (pp). Penalties—Eller, Mon (high-sticking), 3:55; Clark, TB (tripping), 7:11; Subban, Mon (slashing), 18:28.
Second Period—3, Montreal, Desharnais 6 (Kostitsyn, Diaz), 5:01. 4, Montreal, Cole 15 (Pacioretty, Kaberle), 12:46. 5, Tampa Bay, Wyman 1 (Purcell, Gilroy), 17:38. Penalties—Moen, Mon (roughing), :29; Downie, TB (slashing), 7:10.
Third Period—6, Tampa Bay, Bergeron 4 (Downie, St. Louis), 2:32. 7, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 13 (Wyman, Moore), 8:37. Penalties—Gervais, TB (delay of game), 18:28. Shots on Goal—Montreal 10-11-13—34. Tampa Bay 8-8-6—22. Power-play opportunities—Montreal 1 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Goalies—Montreal, Price 13-13-7 (22 shots-18 saves). Tampa Bay, Garon 10-9-2 (34-31).