Advertisement
  1. Lightning

Lightning scores final five goals to snuff out Flames

Tampa Bay Lightning's Alex Killorn, left, checks Calgary Flames' Brett Kulak during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) JMC108
Tampa Bay Lightning's Alex Killorn, left, checks Calgary Flames' Brett Kulak during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) JMC108
Published Feb. 2, 2018

CALGARY — It was the night for the other guys, the bottom six forwards, the ones who don't often get mentioned when one mentions the firepower in the Lightning offense.

Step forward Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde and Matthew Peca. You, too, Cory Conacher.

Those four ignited a comeback that saw the Lightning rip off the final five goals of the night and rally for a 7-4 victory against the Flames at the Saddledome on Thursday.

Killorn had a five-point game, two goals and three assists. Peca had another goal (his second in as many games), and it started the comeback. Gourde set up both of Killorn's goals. And Conacher, playing on the fourth line, did what every hockey coach has ever told him to do: "Shoot the puck on net." It worked. He had two goals on bad-angle shots.

"That line drove the bus for us tonight," coach Jon Cooper said of Killorn, Gourde and Peca. "If you're going to win in this league, you need a little depth in scoring. You can't have the same guys doing it every night."

RELATED: Roger Mooney's takeaways from Thursday's Lightning-Flames game.

It was a nice bounce-back win for the Lightning (35-13-3) after its poor performance Tuesday in a 3-1 loss at Winnipeg. It seems Wednesday's 70-minute, highly competitive practice did the trick.

"It felt great to have a response like that," said Steven Stamkos, who scored just his second goal in 13 games. "I thought we needed to really have a look in the mirror and come out with a lot more urgency and compete after the Winnipeg game, and I thought we did that.

"As the game went along, that wasn't perfect by any means. We got some fluky goals, if you want to call them that, but maybe we were getting rewarded for the effort we put in the game."

The Flames were coming off a disappointing loss of their own Tuesday, when it blew a 2-1 lead late in the third in what quickly became a 4-2 loss to the Golden Knights. It was the first time in two seasons the Flames had lost after leading heading into the third period.

They did it again Thursday when they couldn't protect a 4-3 lead.

The lead was actually 4-2 after Matt Stajan corralled the puck while stationed to the left side of the net and poked it past Andrei Vasilevskiy at 14:27 of the second.

That was the third straight goal for the Flames, and if there was ever a time for the Lightning to fold, it was then.

But Peca scored 22 seconds later, and the comeback was on.

Killorn's second goal game 12 seconds into the third to tie the score.

"We've been on both sides of this," Cooper said. "You give up one late in the period and then one to start the period, it's a huge momentum swing. It goes 4-2 to 4-4, and we got a little bit bigger on the bench. You could see our confidence growing, and we were slinging everything on net, and fortunate for us they were going in."

RELATED: Momentum missing from Lightning power play.

Peca, playing his fifth game since his recall from AHL Syracuse, has given the Lightning a little oomph with his speed and energy, and lately, his scoring touch.

"Any time you can get a response after going down a couple, that's huge," Stamkos said. "Any time it's a one-goal game instead of a two, it gives you a little more life on the bench, and that was a huge goal."

Shoot, Kuch, shoot

F Nikita Kucherov was one of a dozen players who took the ice Thursday for the optional morning skate. He spent the latter part of it as he always does, taking feeds from the left faceoff circle and firing the puck on net.

Kucherov, tied for second in the league in goals entering Thursday, hasn't scored in nine consecutive games. It is his longest drought since being blanked in 13 straight games in 2015.

Coach Jon Cooper said Kucherov's torrid pace to begin the season — goals in 15 of the first 19 games — makes his slide more dramatic.

"You have to look at, is he doing the right things? Is he backchecking? Is he involved? Is he making plays? He's doing those things," Cooper said before the game. "Right now, if I was going to say there's one thing, he's got to shoot the puck more, because sometimes these players, if it's not going in for them, they think, 'Let me move it on' " to another player.

Kucherov took 27 shots during the first seven games of the season and had at least one goal in each of those games. He has taken only 21 shots in the past nine games, including just one Tuesday in Winnipeg and one Thursday.

"For me it's all percentages with 'Kuch,' " Cooper said. "The more he shoots, the more chances it's going into the net. Sometimes you got to make these guys a little bit more selfish to shoot pucks."

Girardi out

D Dan Girardi suffered a lower-body injury Tuesday against the Jets and missed Thursday's game. He was listed as day-to-day.

Girardi was hurt in the first period and left for the trainers room. He returned before the end of the period and played a total of 12:32 over 16 shifts. He was held out of Wednesday's practice for body maintenance.

Gourde a close second

F Yanni Gourde was a runnerup for the NHL's rookie of the month award for January. Gourde had six goals and two assists in 12 games. C Matthew Barzal of the Islanders was named the top rookie after scoring three goals and assisting on 12 in 15 games.