A come-from-behind, overtime victory over Calgary already in the bag, the Lightning came to Vancouver on Saturday hoping for some carryover from the night before.
"We really needed that win," said rookie center Jeff Toms, whose second goal of the season was the game-winner late Friday. "It's a big confidence boost for us."
That certainly is something the Lightning needed, considering it started this three-game trip to western Canada having lost three in a row; it extended the streak to four at Edmonton on Wednesday. And with Tampa Bay down 3-1 to Calgary in the second period, it seemed certain the drought soon would reach five.
But the Lightning rallied: Terry Crisp replaced starting goalie Rick Tabaracci with Corey Schwab, who would stop the eight shots he faced after entering midway through the middle period; Alex Selivanov cut Calgary's lead in half with a goal before the period was done; Shawn Burr tied the score with just more than three minutes left; then Toms lifted the winner over Trevor Kidd at 2:46 of overtime.
"Everybody stayed positive on the bench," Toms said, "and that's a good thing."
For the Lightning, yes, that is a good thing. Especially considering how Tampa Bay has had so many good things happening to it lately, yet failed to take advantage of most of them.
While the Lightning was busy losing six of seven going into Calgary, its closest competitors for the final two Eastern Conference playoffs positions were losing more often than they won. But Tampa Bay failed to make up any ground, and even slipped out of the eighth and final spot over the past couple of weeks.
Then there was Friday, a night in which Washington and Hartford lost _ and, finally, the Lightning won.
"We needed this game in a bad way," center Chris Gratton said.
"It was time," Toms said. "Enough's enough. We have to make a run at this thing."