TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday's game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season.
And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point's power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory.
"A big bounce back game for us," Point said.
Tampa Bay (16-3-2) overcame a two-goal first-period deficit, with Chris Kunitz tying the score early in the third period. Andrei Vasilevskiy came up big, his stellar, sprawling left-pad save on Richard Panik six minutes into the third keeping the score tied. Vasilevskiy then denied Patrick Kane's hat-trick attempt on an overtime breakaway backhand.
"Of course they're going to get a breakaway and of course it's got to be 88 (Kane)," coach Jon Cooper said. "You just kind of turn away and hope you hear the crowd cheer.This one didn't look good early for the Lightning. Its top-ranked power play blew a golden opportunity in the first, squandering a four-minute man advantage (45 seconds a 5-on-3). Ten minutes later, Kane scored his second of the night (on a 5-on-3) to make it 2-0.
Cooper said his team needed to regroup, and it did, playing a much simpler game in the following two periods. "We started to move our feet," Point said.
The Lightning pulled within a goal on a shorthanded tally by Ondrej Palat in the second. It was set up by a tremendous all-around effort by Victor Hedman.
Chris Kunitz tied the game in the first minute of the third, his line with Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan a force all night. Callahan had two assists in one of his better games of the season.
"Some guys really carried our team tonight, Cedy coming back with Kuny and Cally," captain Stamkos said. "I thought Cally was the best player on the ice tonight for both teams, it inspired the rest of this group."
After Vasilevskiy's stunning stop on Kane's breakaway backhand in overtime, the Lightning converted on the power play. Nikita Kucherov, held without a point, made an unreal play on the halfwall, setting up Stamkos, who faked a shot before feeding Point on the back post. "Another tap-in," he said.
It was the only thing that came easy for the Lightning all night.
With Cedric Paquette returning to the lineup, the Lightning tried to sneak C Gabriel Dumont through waivers. Tampa Bay hoped Dumont would clear, and end up in AHL Syracuse, providing some needed grit and experience. But Dumont was claimed Wednesday by Atlantic Division rival Ottawa. That shouldn't come as no surprise since Senators coach Guy Boucher has loved Dumont since his days coaching him in juniors.
D Jake Dotchin (undisclosed injury), who missed practice Monday and Tuesday, did not play. "He's banged up," Cooper said. Dotchin is considered day-to-day, so he should play on the upcoming four-game road trip. D Andrej Sustr replaced Dotchin in the lineup as Tampa Bay went with 12 forwards, six defensemen. D Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch. G Andrei Vasilevskiy started his 18th game.
• The Lightning power play has been one of the best in the league this season, but it blew a golden chance in the first period on a four-minute man advantage (including 45 seconds of 5-on-3). Chicago struck soon after on a 5-on-3 of its own for a 2-0 lead.
• Great news as Fox Sports Sun Lightning reporter Paul Kennedy is expected to be back in the studio for Friday's game at the Capitals. Kennedy is recovering well from last month's prostate surgery.
"It's almost like that's the way hockey should be played, watching those two guys."
Blackhawks star Patrick Kane on Lightning linemates Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.