TAMPA — Ryan Callahan might as well have a crystal ball for how well his comments Monday morning matched the Lightning’s finish that night.
“It’s just our approach, our demeanor, it’s a quiet confidence we’ve built throughout the year with our success,” he said, eight hours before the Lightning took on the Bruins. “There’s a confidence in the room that we’re never out of the game.”
For the third game in a row, Tampa Bay faced a deficit entering the third period.
The way Boston had been playing made the two-goal difference look steep. But, as it has nine times this season, the Lightning launched a comeback.
Three goals later, Amalie erupted as Tampa Bay secured its second win over the Bruins, 5-4.
Jon Cooper felt the game change when Victor Hedman brought the Lightning within a goal early in the third period. A one-goal deficit with 15 minutes to play seemed a different game than down two with 20 to go.
“When Heddy scored in the third, that kind of revived us,” he said. “We followed it up, but that goal, we grew on the bench a little bit after that.”
Hedman showed off both speed and stick work on the goal.
It started with a breakaway for Steven Stamkos. His backhanded shot was just wide of the post, hit the boards and bounced back toward the opposite post. Hedman, coming in with speed, met the puck around the goal line. He collected it on his backhand, to bring it back across that red paint, then switched to his forehand and tucked it around the post.
From the other side, Brandon Carlo, who had given the Boston the lead, felt similarly to Cooper, calling Hedman’s goal a tough one for the Bruins.
That deficit stood for about eight minutes. Then Nikita Kucherov tied it up with 6:45 left on a play that started with Andrei Vasilevskiy. The goalie made a big pad save on Brad Marchand, who had already scored twice.
The rebound off his right pad deflected halfway up the boards, about to the top of the circle. Stamkos collected it there and tipped it up to Kucherov, already at the red line.
Stamkos caught up with Kucherov and the two were alone with Zdeno Chara between them and Tuukka Rask. Kucherov landed a shot over Rask’s shoulder. He followed the goal with a massive fist pump.
Enter Anthony Cirelli, who landed the game-winner against Boston back on Dec. 6. He did it again Monday, on a play in which all five Lightning skaters touched the puck.
Alex Killorn started the cycle down low in the right circle. He sent it up to Mikhail Sergachev, who continued around to Ryan McDonagh at the opposite point. McDonagh sent the puck down low to Mathieu Joseph, just off the left post.
Joseph saw Cirelli with space in the slot and made quick pass. Cirelli took a one-timer from about the hashmark, his body facing toward the boards and his shoulders lined up on the goal. The shot made its way through traffic, above Rask’s glove with 52.2 seconds left.
The Lightning mobbed Cirelli as they celebrated.
“We were feeling better about our game than the score indicated,” Stamkos said. “We knew Vasy was going to shut the door and if we were just able to get that next one, put some pressure on them.”
Hedman got the next one. The Lightning applied pressure and just like that, Tampa Bay completed the comeback.